I should’ve written this last week, but better late than never.
The Meat Man has enjoyed a renaissance in recent months, partially due to his rework, the decline of other assassins, and one of Butcher’s nemeses (Brightwing) finally falling out of favor. Since the talents are the easy part of the Butcher, I’ll talk about how to play him generally first.
MEAT: MMMM….meat. The most important thing with the Butcher is to satisfy his meat lust, at which time he will gain a permanent 125 damage. He will also gain a permanent +5 for every enemy hero killed thereafter, even if he didn’t deliver the killing blow…provided he can collect the meat, that is.
Someone once told me in a game “there’s never any reason to chase.” And the more I play the more I agree with him. This is doubly true for the Butcher. You’re a late game guy and you need meat. Even if you have full meat, you’re going to find it tough to slip away from any sticky situations, so pick your spots.
Picking your spots: The draft is the most important thing when deciding whether to pick Butcher. He needs a lot of poke on his team to succeed, and then go in for the kill.
Next, you need to stay away from anyone good against single-target damage, like Zarya, because everyone can see who you’re charging and who you’re branding, and if you switch targets, that’s basically throwing in the towel.
Even if the time is right, and you see a vulnerable target just begging to be turned into meat, you need a window in between enemy counters. For example: if they have Nazeebo, is zombie wall up? If it is, you’d better start moving again immediately after charge connects or you’re going to get caught in it. Or maybe he’ll just put it where he knows you’ll slam on the brakes.
Shutting you down will be a high priority for their team, and you telegraph all your moves, so here’s a summary of other stuff you have to watch out for.
Auriel: If you get knocked back, it’ll be a while before you get in range again. Maybe unrelenting pursuit would be best against her.
Brightwing: She’s supposedly the number one counter to Butcher with sheep and possibly emerald wind. Just keep that in mind before you commit.
Chromie: Are there time traps everywhere?
Kharazim: We all know about cleanse, but his level 16 talent cleansing touch can also get rid of lamb to the slaughter. And if you charge in alone, there’s a good chance you’ll get hit with seven-sided strike. Actually, it might be palm that’s used on your lamb victim, and I’m not sure which is worse.
Medivh: Have to keep gates in mind here, as well as the possibility of your lamb target being shielded.
Probius: I know everyone thinks he’s a prime butcher target, but his abilities hurt more than you’d think, and if he isn’t poked down a bit pre-charge he can still get away after lamb.
Tracer: Really annoying. Your team needs strong auto attack against her, ideally. Don’t charge her unless you’re sure her escape cooldowns are unavailable. And definitely don’t use lamb.
Zarya: You charge, she’s going to shield whoever it is. Easiest thing in the world. So wait before using it. It might help you more than her to wait, because she might hold back on both self- and ally-shields waiting for charge.
So there you have it. Meat is the most important thing, DON’T CHASE, try to get favorable compositions on both your team and the enemy team, and be aware of enemy cooldowns before going in. A little thinking at the pre-game screen can help you pick your spots, e.g. “shields definitely need to be down, try to bait out a sheep” and so on.
Oh, and Butcher can be really good with mercs, especially late game.
Now on to the talents.
Level 1: Abbatoir (77.0%)
This is mostly because the other talents at this level are so weak. Pick your spots and you shouldn’t die that much anyway.
Level 4: Flail Axe (23.7%)
Most people (59.5%) choose unrelenting pursuit here. Maybe I’m biased because the Butcher needs poke on his team, and in quick match you might need to be your own poke in the early game. For example, if you solo lane against Kerrigan this will allow you to safely poke away out of her dive range. But if you do take unrelenting pursuit, keep the charges short-range or you’ll end up dead.
Level 7: Insatiable Blade (77.2%)
Once again I think this is mostly due to the weakness of the other talents.
Level 10: Lamb to the Slaughter (80.9%)
You should take this unless you absolutely can’t avoid it, by which I mean the enemy is loaded with cleansers. But, if you took Butcher, you hopefully did it at the end of the draft when you were sure you had a situation in which he could succeed.
Level 13: Brutal Strike (51.2%)
Savage charge can be good too, especially against a team loaded with tanks, which seems to be most teams these days. Brutal strike also helps you against non-heroes, which is a really underrated aspect of this talent. It helps you get immortals, bosses, and camps that you couldn’t otherwise have taken if you were slower.
Level 16: Enraged (75.8%)
Yet again, this is because the other talents just aren’t that good.
Level 20: Slaughterhouse (45.7%)
Nexus blades is a close second, but I’ve rarely tried that one. You’ll just have to decide whether an area silence or extra damage is more appealing to you. If you’re against tanks it’s probably the latter.