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Heroes of the Storm: The Butcher guide

The butcher at my local grocery store claims to care about freshness and quality, but does he relentlessly pursue such fresh meat across active battlefields? I don’t think so. Many professions have a patron saint, but meat mongering has its own patron demon: the Butcher. Luckily you don’t have to be a carnivore to slice, dice, and serve the Butcher’s foes in Heroes of the Storm. If you’re looking for a ferocious assassin capable of chasing down enemy heroes with a decent amount of sustain, then read on!

The Butcher is a melee assassin, throwing his massive weight into his axe and sickle, burying them into the flesh of his victims to slow them and heal himself. He is a damage powerhouse, proficient at turning protein into pain with brutal efficiency and roasting the remains of his victims in the fires of the Burning Hells. If you can handle the heat, then lotllll and let’s jump into the kitchen!

Abilities

Hamstring – The Butcher’s Q is a straight line skillshot that deals a moderate amount of damage and slows everything it hits by 50%, fading over the next 2 seconds. Combining Hamstring with some judicious body blocking and you should be able to continue wailing on your quarry for quite some time.

One important thing to note about Hamstring: after using this ability, your next basic attack will cast immediately, and will thusly reset the Butcher’s swing timer. If you’re looking to maximize your burst damage window, you can wait for a basic attack to hit your enemy and then use Hamstring, which is then followed up by another basic attack — all of this happens over the course of a couple seconds.

Butcher’s Brand – Essentially a mark to put on an enemy, Butcher’s Brand does a small amount of damage but allows you to do a large amount of self-healing, provided you can stay in melee range of your target and land all those basic attacks. Branding a target and healing yourself when you’re being focused and chased is often a better idea than attempting to flee, primarily because the next ability leans more on initiation and less on disengaging. If you have a choice, make sure to preferentially use this on enemy heroes as the healing component is doubled for those targets.

Ruthless Onslaught – Ruthless Onslaught is a charge that targets a single hero, chasing the enemy around obstacles, after teleports, and (for now) even through stealth! As the demon stomps his way towards his target he is immune to crowd control effects like stuns, slows, and roots, though you also lose control of the Butcher until he either reaches his target, is stopped prematurely (by a wall, for example), or you end the charge by hitting E again.

Lamb to the Slaughter – The first of the Butcher’s heroics is Lamb to the Slaughter, a type of root that affects the hero closest to the center of the effect (the post, in this case). The chained enemy hero will be unable to leave the radius of the effect for 4 seconds.

Furnace Blast – The other heroic option, Furnace Blast, pulses a large amount of AOE damage after a 3 second delay. Note that this ability can be cast while Ruthless Onslaught is active, allowing you to set up some aggressive dives on a squishy back line group. Naturally, the more enemy heroes you hit with this ability, the better.

Fresh Meat – The Butcher’s trait is Fresh Meat, causing nearby minion and hero kills to drop meat that, when collected, increases the Butcher’s attack damage by 1% per stack. All stacks drop upon death (unless you take a specific talent), requiring a bit of farming to get his output back up to its full potential.

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Playing the Butcher

My playstyle with the Butcher is very similar to other high burst damage heroes — unadulterated recklessness. In fact, I would say that this demon exacerbates my tendencies to throw caution to the wind in pursuit of sweet, sweet takedowns. This is not the best way to play the Butcher, though it is the best way to get the Butcher killed! Knowing when you can engage, when to chase, when to peel, when to trade; with as vulnerable as the Butcher can be, these are important questions to answer.

Strengths

  • Very high burst damage
  • High sustain
  • Nice initiate in Ruthless Onslaught
Weaknesses

  • Quite susceptible to crowd control
  • Difficult to disengage from a gank

The Butcher is rated “medium” by Blizzard even though I’m sure he prefers his steaks rare. Seriously though, this rating somewhat accurately reflects proper Butcher play: while his abilities aren’t terribly complex, and killing bots and inexperienced players with this sultan of the slaughterhouse could be done blindfolded, it’s the simple matter of staying alive that bumps the Butcher up a notch on the difficulty scale. His reliance on basic attacks for self-healing means he can easily be isolated and deleted from the game if you’re not careful!

The Butcher is still undergoing some build iterations and general experimentation being a relatively new hero and all, but in my own play and from what I’ve been able to glean from others I have noticed there are two main archetypes: sustain builds and simple damage builds. The more organized your play gets in climbing the ladders of the Hero and Team Leagues, the more emphasis is placed on damage builds, but sustain builds and other, less defined talent setups can be just as viable and powerful in quick match and AI games.

Level 1 At the very outset of the game, the Butcher has a very important decision to make. Is he teamed with a nice support or two who can toss him a heal (or a shield, not forgetting about you Tassadar) in the early game? If so, Invigoration is likely his top pick here. But what if there aren’t any supports to back him up? Then Victuals is a pretty good grab.

Chop Meat is obviously a talent designed for a laning Butcher, something this particular demon can do in a pinch but isn’t really destined for. Block adds some protection from “right click” heroes like Valla, Illidan, and even other Butchers, but it just doesn’t pull its weight.

Level 4 Usually my go-to talent this tier is Flail Axe, which makes chasing targets and getting in range for Ruthless Onslaught a bit easier. Unrelenting Pursuit is great when the team comps allow you to play aggressively and use that charge to its fullest potential.

Envenom lets you sneak in a little bit more lingering damage for when you just can’t seem to finish off that fleeing enemy, but with the Butcher’s kit and the other options at this level Envenom doesn’t see as much play as you’d think. And Cheap Shot could work well if either it was specifically built around or you lucked into a great team comp (Jaina, Tyrande, etc.), dramatically increasing the amount of burst damage the Butcher can dish out, but the talent’s effects are a bit too conditional to see widespread usage.

Level 7 At level 7 the Butcher can finally take some of his meat to his grave and back again with the talent Abattoir, and as you can imagine this talent is quite good — especially if you like to play as fearlessly as I do. Abattoir also increases your meat cap to 35, which means more attack damage and, with the help of a later talent, higher attack speed.

The rest of the talents this tier suffer from the chronic condition “not-Abattoir-itis.” Brutal Strike, like Cheap Shot from last tier, slightly increases your burst damage by buffing that immediate basic attack after Hamstring, and might be preferred over Abattoir in extremely bursty situations.

Final Assault’s range buff and lunge addition to Ruthless Onslaught can be great in the right hands, but the number of times I’ve found myself as a lifeless corpse mere seconds after using Ruthless Onslaught tells me that perhaps those hands aren’t mine. Overall, I’d say this talent is lackluster because all it does in a practical situation is to make it easier to overextend.

Insatiable Blade just isn’t worth it; even though your self-healing is bumped up to 200% of damage done when used on an enemy hero, it’s far too easy to keep the Butcher away from his branded target to merit investing in buffs for the ability.

Level 10 Like a lot of heroes, the Butcher’s choices of heroics adheres to a “single-target vs. AOE” scheme.

Lamb to the Slaughter can single out one target and keep them in place for the Butcher to begin making his choice cuts. The key to using this ability is in the placement, as the closest hero to the center of the reticle, the post, will be the one chained after a one second delay. Of course, sometimes you just want to single out any enemy hero, and this does that quite well. But with the sheer number of supports with access to some sort of Cleanse, Lamb to the Slaughter isn’t nearly as good as it should be.

Furnace Blast, the AOE heroic option for the Butcher, sees a lot more play for a number of reasons. The damage output from this ability is through the roof, it can be used mid-charge with Ruthless Onslaught, and it synergizes beautifully with other AOE heroics like Grav-o-bomb 3000, Devouring Maw, Divine Storm, and many others. To me, Furnace Blast is the Marcia Brady to Lamb’s Jan — it’s prettier, more popular, and gets hit in the face by many more footballs.

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Level 13 There are quite a few good choices at level 13, with only one talent falling a bit short. Burning Rage can be a good talent for a warrior, since the extra health and mitigation means those heroes are in the melee longer than the other classes. While they are in the thick of it, Burning Rage provides some mana-free, passive damage output that applies constant pressure on whichever enemy hero decides to stick around.

The Butcher is a melee assassin, so on first blush you’d think that passive damage output might be good for him as well. However, because an unchecked Butcher can be a very dangerous thing, most teams will find ways to isolate him and take him down. Staying alive on this demon involves a lot of dipping in and out of melee range, especially since he doesn’t have a true disengage, and therefore the value of Burning Rage plummets.

Crave Flesh is my personal default talent here as it allows you to stay on your branded target longer even if they’re running away. Spell Shield can be useful when you’re up against ability burst combo heroes like Kael’thas and, to some extent, Nova, particularly because both heroes have ways of catching a Butcher unaware and singling them out.

Savage Charge, to me, seems a bit at odds with the ability it is buffing. To get the most damage out of Savage Charge, you’ll naturally want to target an enemy that’s at or near full health. Most of the times I’ve used Ruthless Onslaught it has been on enemies fleeing from a team fight, typically with less than half health remaining. It seems like Savage Charge encourages diving and using Ruthless Onslaught to initiate, which can be very dangerous for the Butcher. Even so, I wouldn’t go so far as calling Savage Charge a bad talent — it’s just a bit of an odd one.

Level 16 With only three talents in this tier, choosing the Right Talent just got a bit easier. That talent, of course, is Blood Frenzy. This is a talent that makes me downright giddy. Combined with Abattoir, this talent gives the Butcher an additional 35% attack speed when he’s fully stocked with meat. Not only does this dramatically increase your damage output, but it indirectly buffs your self-healing; since the effect on Butcher’s Brand is based on a duration and not a specific number of attacks, you can squeeze more hits in the same amount of time.

Given sufficient mana, Crippling Slam allows you to keep your target moving at half speed for a little over 60% of the time you are still in range. Not terrible, but not worth sacrificing stacking attack speed in most cases.

Enraged is a talent that looks good on paper but doesn’t quite work out in the Nexus. Perhaps I haven’t given the talent enough time to prove itself, but dipping below 50% health and staying alive for the next 10 seconds are two events that rarely coincide.

Level 20 It’s always nice to round things out with some amazing level 20 talents, and boy does the Butcher deliver.

Slaughterhouse and Fires of Hell are upgrades to their level 10 counterparts, Lamb to the Slaughter and Furnace Blast. Personally I’d say I’m more inclined to not choose “upgrade” talents because I usually prefer the utility that the others might bring, and that definitely carries over to the Butcher. They’re both fairly decent talents, though Furnace Blast is suspect because a second pulse is usually either unnecessary or not possible, so if you think you can make use of a group root effect or a second AOE pulse, by all means!

Taking Nexus Blades at level 20 feels a bit like winning the grand prize on a game show, but then the announcer says, “But that’s not all!” and keeps opening doors with increasingly amazing prizes behind them. Blood Frenzy paired with Nexus Blades produces a level of glee previously unseen in most humans. The one second slow is a very nice cherry on top, as well.

Lastly, Bolt of the Storm gives the Butcher what he’s been missing all this time (aside from more meat): a disengage. If you’re being hunted down and preferentially targeted during team fights, and you likely will be, then Bolt of the Storm can extend your life dramatically, potentially catching the enemy team in a compromising position as they attempt to chase you.

And there you have it, that’s the Butcher! This hero is great if you just want to queue into a game and hit things to death, with a side bonus of actually being a really strong assassin to boot! It will be interesting to see the direction they take with the Butcher as time goes on (I suspect some talent shuffling is in his future), but for now he’s just a big, sewn together bundle of fun. As always, if you have any questions or comments, feel free to drop them in the comment section below!

Written by Dan Desmond. Last updated 7/13/2015.