Understanding how the Butcher has changed over the three versions of him on the table is like a study of a man’s descent into madness. From the start of Mk1 (over ten years ago), you could tell that the Butcher had a few screws loose. He did the normal support the army thing but was able to do the heavy lifting himself if needed. As new versions came out, this aggression level just went up. He went from supporting the army to the army supporting him. In today’s post, we will be taking a look at each of these versions and how they work on the table.
When asked by new Khador players who their next caster should be, I will usually point
them in the direction of Butcher1. He is an odd caster. What a lot of people see when they first look at him is the P+S16 ax (named Lola) with Weapon master. They assume that his style of play is to go for the throat and get the assassination. While this is an option for the big guy, he has other options as well. He can run a jack heavy army and abuse Full Throttle to get the fight with little drain on himself. He can run troop heavy and use Iron Flesh on either Shocktroopers or one of the Iron Fang units while keeping Fury on something meant to take out harder to damage targets.
While any of these options are fine and work, I find that the balanced approach works best. What you will want is two or three warjacks that can get as much work out of Full Throttle as possible. To protect Butcher and block line of sight to him, a unit of Man-o-War Shocktroopers with the CA will do the trick quite well. Add a MoW Kovnik to get them up the field a bit faster thanks to Desperate Pace. With all of this and Iron Flesh on top of them, they are a unit that cannot be pushed, knocked down, or hurt by blast damage and are rocking a solid ARM 23 moving at SPD 6. This is a good defensive wall for your caster to stand behind. Since you will likely be casting Full Throttle as well as upkeeping two spells, Butcher will only have one focus left to overboost on the turn after a big attack turn. This will be even less if you allocated that one focus to a Jack for an extra attack or boosted damage. After this core section, you will need to pick a unit as your Fury target. This one is a matter of taste. Personally, I like the Great Bears as the target for this but other good options are the Iron Fang Pikemen with their CA or the Kayazy Assassins with the Underboss. The idea is to put it on a unit that will get the most of the damage boost while either having a better DEF stat then other units, or such a good ARM stat that a lowered defense won’t hurt them to much.
The Butcher is a support caster in this style of list. He helps his army do their job and supports them. Assassination is always an option with him. In this way he can act as a second wave if needed. If there is a clear charge lane for him to get into the mix, great, but it is not required for you to get the most out of him. Use his feat on the turn when most of your army is getting into the mix, even if this means that he is not in combat himself. It may be odd to think of doing that, but more attacks mean more damage dice being rolled. It is also OK not to use it on the turn you are going for an assassination, but to help swing the attrition game in your favor. Removing more of the other army makes it harder for them to fight back
Butcher2 is more about going for the kill and setting up his army to do it as well. Since Mk3 dropped, Troll players have been enjoying how Madrak2 can “Pac-man” through entire units his on feat turn. Well, besides for the fury-gained-per-kill, this is how Butcher2 works every turn. He comes with both Berserk and Conferred Rage naturally. This means that he can attack more models before spending Focus to do so (as long as he kills a model before each extra attack) and makes his Jacks better for doing so. He also comes with a nice little ability called Homicidal Maniac. You get to move an inch if there are no enemies within melee range after destroying a model. This is a good thing for two reasons: First, it allows you to move closer to another model and keep the killing spree going, enabling the Pacman effect to happen. The other nice thing about this is, if you run out of enemy models to hit, you can move and adjust Butcher’s facing so that friendly models are not in his line of sight. That way you do not have to attack friendly models. It is a nice way to do as much damage as possible with little risk to your own stuff when applied correctly.
So, he is a tough model-clearing murder-machine with the ability to amp up his Jacks by doing so. What is the downside you may be asking yourself. Well, a big one is his Focus stat. It reads “ * ”. A little odd, no? This is because of another ability on his card called Arcane Dementia. This ability states that at the start of your turn you roll a d6 and add one. This is the amount of Focus he gets to work with that turn.This makes it hard to plan a turn around. It may be early in the game and you have no need to cast many of his spells or hand out focus to your jacks, but you roll a six, giving you seven Focus that will just sit there for camping (besides the two used to cast Fury). On the other hand, you may want to put out or upkeep Fury as well as put Boundless charge up on a jack. While that alone would only require three Focus to do, that turn you may roll a one and only have two Focus and will have to choose between those two options or using it for the Butcher’s own attacks or camping to overboost his field. Two things of note on this one. One: Your control range will always be 12 inches. The second thing is that if the Butcher kills at least three enemy models in melee, he will automatically get seven focus the next turn.
Now his feat, “Feel the Hate”, is where the interesting things start to happen. When it is activated, every time an enemy model is destroyed in his control range, you place one Rage token on to a friendly model in the same range. A model can only have up to three of these tokens. During its activation, the model can use these tokens to boost an attack or damage roll, or buy an extra attack. This allows you the chance to set up assassination runs and get a few extra swings in with each mode or make sure they hit with those key charge rolls to make sure that they can get the job done. The basic idea is to pop Butcher’s feat before starting his attack run. As you kill enemy models, you place the rage tokens on the key models for an assassination run. Usually, weapon master models, Kayazy assassins, or models with flank (I am looking at you Great Bears). If the Butcher can join them in the fun of attacking the other Warcaster or Warlock, all the better. If not, then make sure he helps clear the way for those who can get there.
Butcher 3 is when the pendulum swings fully to the other side. While Butcher1 could support the army to achieve several play styles, and Butcher2 helped set up the assassination run, Butcher3 wants the kill himself. His army is there to help get him to the fight and get to the other side’s leader. After they do this, they just get out of the way and let the man do his thing. While this may sound easy, it takes a few more moving parts to make happen.
This version of Butcher comes with a pair of War Argus, forming a Warcaster unit. This pair of two headed dogs gives you a few options while playing this Caster. The first is that, while at least one of the Argus are alive, the whole unit gains Relentless Charge. This ability gives them Pathfinder while charging. That’s a nice little ability on a Speed 5 madman with an ax who can hit from two inches away. This allows him to get to his target even if they are hiding on the other side of a wall or in a forest. If he can see the target, he can get to the target as long as they are 10 Inches away.
Another use for the dogs is actually from an ability granted by Butcher himself, Vengeance. When the timing is right, you leave a Argus out in the open in hopes of the other side killing them off. When this happens, during your next turn each model in this unit gets to advance three inches and make one attack. The main reason for this is the extra three inches, the melee attacks are just icing if you get something in range. You can use this extra move to help line up a charge lane, get in a better position to cast Impending Doom, (more on this fun spell in a moment) or just move a bit closer to your primary target. His threat range at this point from charge, vengeance, and attack range on Lola (his ax) is now thirteen inches, but that is not the full range threat range to which he has access.
There are a total of five spells on his spell list. I am stating this because there are only three spells which are key to making him work. One’s situational and one will rarely see play. The odd man out is Obliteration. This is a ranged attack spell that is nice to have but will rarely see play with this caster. Silence of Death is a good spell, and it can have uses in the right situation. Effectively increasing your ax to P+S 18 and giving it Take Down can be really useful when facing enemies like Trolls, or that have soul collection abilities like some in Skorne and Menoth. However, when facing low to medium armor casters who do not have Tough or the ability to collect souls, the spell cost can be better places on some of the other spells. The key spells are Energizer, Flashing Blade, and Impending Doom. These three spells help make that thirteen inch threat range even larger and helps put some fear in the hearts of your enemies.
Energizer is the first in the movement-shenanigans spells Butcher 3 has up his sleeve. When he casts this spell, all models in his battle group (Jacks, himself, and the argus) move two inches. This means that he can make a move before even declaring his charge or picking his target. It brings that respectable threat range of thirteen to fifteen inches. Only ten of those inches need to be in a straight line. The three from vengeance can be in one direction, and the two from this spell can be at a different angle. Not to many melee monsters like Butcher can threaten that much table. But we are not through, yet….
Butcher 3 has an impressive signature spell in Impending Doom. This spell allows him to push any model within five inches of him directly towards him. Every time I think about this spell, I picture the enemy model dragging its fingers in the dirt trying not to get any closer to the death machine made flesh before them. Unless you can get a direct line for a charge on the other caster, this spell will allow you to get those odd assassination runs to go off. A lot of players will use a unit to help screen their caster from threats like Butcher. Using this spell, you can charge a model in the screening unit which is five inches away from the real target (the other caster) cast this spell, and drag him right into melee range. He may not take the charge attack, but he is now tied-up in melee and that is right where you want them.
Butcher 3’s feat is rather simple at first glance. He refills his Focus supply up to six and living enemy models can not charge him. This feat has two components. First the Focus refill allows him to keep casting spells, buy more attacks and boosts, or be used to camp to help protect him from incoming attacks. The second part is the cannot be charged section. This allows him a bit more protection from counter-attacks when he is left out in the open from charging into battle.
When you put it all together, it gets scary for your opponent to face. Let us take a look at the total threat range to show why this is so scary. On the turn before your assassination run, the other player damaged one of the Argus. This would kick off Vengeance, causing Butcher and the Argi that are still alive to move three inches before you activate a model. During his activation, you make Butcher cast Energizer for two more inches. At this point, you pick a model to charge that is within range and hopefully five inches from the enemy caster (if you cannot get a line of the caster itself). This move brings him eight inches up the board. With a melee range of two inches, everything in that range is threatened and perform your charge attack to clear that model out of the way. Now cast Impending Doom to drag the other caster and any other model into range. Cast flashing blade twice to kill everything in melee range and attack the other caster. Now you are out of focus… till you pop your feat giving you the chance for six more attacks. Adding this up, you have a total threat range of TWENTY INCHES that your opponent will need to stay out of or bog down with a lot of bodies in order to keep their caster safe. That is a lot of table space that is not safe to be sitting in.
Butcher3’s army is there for one reason. That reason is to get him into the fight & set up the assassination.You will need to pick units to help get him & his unit there as safely as possible and help improve the chances of getting into melee with what you want. Things that will likely be in the list are models to put up a cloud wall, shield guard models and one fun elf merc to help strip focus from the enemy caster before the big assault happens. Another thing to be considered is a unit to bog down a zone so that your opponent will need to root them out in order to win via scenario while worrying about the mad man breathing down their caster’s neck. This is shows how far Butcher has swung in the other direction as his first version. Butcher1 is there to help the army do its thing. Butcher3 uses his army to get him in the middle of it & it is there to deliver him.
These are the three current versions of the man named Zoktavia, the Butcher. Putting one of these models on the table allows you to play a very aggressive game and play it the way you like to play. Each version offers players very different play styles and experiences. From Butcher1’s support style to Butcher2’s style of making his whole aggressive, and finally Butcher3’s aggressive style of his own. The choice is yours to make. So get out there and apply the ax to someone’s face for the Motherland.
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