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Tactics for the Butchers Guild

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In tandem with @Mako excellent beginner player rundowns, this is a post for beginner tactics for the Butchers Guild to improve our new player resources. It is not intended to be a bible nor do I propose this is the only way to play Butchers. Please feel free to suggest your own tactics that would be useful to a beginner here. I will outline a few strategies I have played myself which may or may not be helpful. Together we will try to make this a useful guide for beginner players - remember this is not designed for the 'expert' or top-level play.


The Butchers are one of the oldest Guilds in Guildball and are certainly capable of moving the ball around but their focus is on controlling the game through takeouts. This doesn’t mean they win only through takeouts – even Butchers need to score goals. More that you can control the game through taking out key enemy players preventing you from scoring and cripple your opponents gameplan. Their momentum comes from getting into melee with their opponent and doing DMG.

Butchers are glass-cannons however – throwing your players at your opponent will often get them taken out – Butchers are not Orcs! They require a little finesse to work, but when the machine is rolling they can seem to take control of the game. Many of your players have easy access to momentous DMG and you should leverage that to gain control over tempo (who is dictating the action – or who is on the offensive/defensive) because Butchers lack the janky skills of other Guilds – what you see is often what you get. Which is a lot of punching.

TIP: This guide will not discuss Union players. Partly because the minor guild will take these away, partly because this is a beginner guide.

1: Team Selection

Butchers currently have two captains to choose from and they are very different in their approach – while still being very Butchery.

Captain Ox

The Ox-man is a multi-talented piece that you can switch roles with – support element with low INF, or beat stick with max INF. A team lead by Ox is focused on taking out the enemy and doing so extremely well – an Ox Team can put out the highest DMG in the game without special setup.

Ox the beat stick

Ox has fairly generic stats and his defence is low. His special trait The Owner is where he shines. This converts his high TAC and low playbook DMG into deadly effect. +1 DMG always on means his playbook actually reads: 2 T 3 KD 4 etc. For a TAC 7 model with access to 5 INF, Ox can deal a lot of DMG to models. His Legendary pumps his personal DMG output to insane levels – 3 DMG on 1 success is incredible and 4 DMG on 3 when the enemy is at -1 ARM is usually enough to dispatch any model, including captains (assuming they don’t escape his clutches – see Weaknesses).

TIP: The Owner and Get ‘Em Lads! Both boost Character Plays that do DMG as well as melee combat. Brisket’s Dirty Knives, Shank’s Thousand Cuts and Tenderiser’s Ground Pound all benefit at range. Meathook's Scything Blow is especially nasty under these. While situational, having Brisket throw 3 DMG Dirty Knives at models can be effective.

TIP: Don’t forget Get ‘Em Lads! reduces enemy models ARM by 1. It can be easy to forget this is in the whirlwind of pain Ox generates.

TIP: The Owner and Get ‘Em Lads! Only require friendly models to be within 4”/6” respectively to get the +1 DMG (enemy models need to be in for -1 ARM). This can extend the effect of these Auras quite substantially when combined with 2” melee models such as Shank and Boar.

Ox the Support Captain

Ox doesn’t have to be tearing people up to be effective on the pitch (although a good turn with him doing so can often swing the game heavily in your favour). Ox’s aura’s can allow him to help his team with no INF at all. Just walk him into range (or be in a scrum) and your opponent is in serious trouble. Try to get Ox into the thick of a scrum and let his team start to tear the opponent apart with +1/+2 DMG.

He also has a few Character Plays that can be used to support his team if Ox can’t make it into melee. Tough Skin can help keep fragile models or low defence models (like Boar) alive, although this is often best cast on Ox himself as your opponent will know that Ox is making his entire team do much more DMG than they should and removing Ox is the only way to stop it. They Ain’t Tough! can be used on any ARM target (and especially Masons and Blacksmiths) to increase the effectiveness of Butcher attacks. This is also very easy for Ox to trigger in melee – and situationally this might be the right play if facing a wall of ARM. Butchery is another DMG buff Butchers can put out – which when combined with Tooled Up and Ox can give models up to +4 DMG to every hit – no model in the game can survive this. Butchery is often best used if INF is left on Ox for some reason.

Ox is not unstoppable. Ox suffers from painting a huge target on his head. By cranking the Butchers team DMG up to 11, he is the number one piece enemy teams will try to remove in some way. This might be a simple take out, or more tricksy means such as Puppet Mastering him to walk backwards etc. His defence is low and his 19 boxes won’t save him from a combined assault. Use of Tough Skin can help as 3+/2 is ok, but Ox’s greatest fear is being knocked down. Consider buffing his defence with Swift Stance from Boiler even if KD.

TIP: Keep Ox on his feet as much as possible. Butchers should be generating plenty of momentum – stand him up rather than heal him. 2+ doubles the number of success rolled against him and also switches off any sort of counter attack he can make.

Ox has a Double Push on 3 hits – if you can roll a counter attack, Ox has a good chance to disengage many adversaries. Finally, because his defence is so weak, Ox is easy to counter and dodge away for some models. Try to hit the KD to stop this on the first attack – the KD will also increase his subsequent DMG so it’s not wasted. You can boost this chance by charging – but beware Defensive Stance.

Suggested Beginner Team selection

Hurt Me Plenty: Ox (C), Princess, Boiler, Brisket2, Meathook, Boar

Captain Fillet

Where Ox is the centre of his team, Fillet is a super star. She wants all the attention and she can do it all. It is not unusual to start every turn giving Fillet 6 INF and going from there. She runs hot, but she will deliver often without support. With support she can be one of the most dangerous models in the game.

Fillet the Super Star

Firstly a quick look at Fillet’s stats shows that she above average in every department. Extremely fast, extremely high TAC, good KICK, high Defence. She lacks ARM but 5+ defence means that outside KD she has less to fear from most models outside bad luck. Her playbook is pretty linear in her DMG but the most important result is in column 4 – Blood Rain. Her traits explain this – Smell Blood and Blood Dance. Smell Blood is a +1 DMG buff against bleeding targets (and a SPD buff as well if she needs it) and Blood Dance adds a dodge to everything she does in melee. Combined with Blood Rain, Fillet can start to dish out a lot of DMG quickly and has the INF to keep on hacking at models until they are taken out.

TIP: Remember that Blood Dance and Smell Blood require the target to be already bleeding prior to the attack to take effect.

Fillet wants to hit that Blood Rain trigger, and if she can charge, she should do so. She won’t always hit it, but through use of Bonus Time and her TAC 8, she has a good chance. ALWAYS take Blood Rain if the target is not already bleeding.

TIP: Prepping a model for Fillet to go into increases the chance of Blood Rain and is recommended. Meathook's Hooked, Brisket1’s Dirty Knives, Truffles 1 INF charge for a KD and Shank’s Thousand Cuts can all boost Fillet’s effectiveness.

TIP: Because Fillet has a high INF stat she can benefit the most from Tooled Up – try to tool her up from Meathook and watch Fillet keep swinging and getting a benefit.

Once the target is bleeding, Fillet can usually cut them down. If she cannot her Legendary allows her to instantly do 3 additional DMG – which after a Fillet assault should be the end of the target.

TIP: Watch for clusters of enemy models – putting Bleed condition onto multiple enemies is very effective.

Fillet isn’t just a scalpel to the enemy’s heart, she is also an effective striker. If given the ball, Fillet can often use her natural abilities to dodge around enemy models and score. Her low Tackle makes tackling her relatively pointless and her high Defence means she can shrug off even parting blows. Fillet is so fast (up to 11” of MOV) that she can often score goals, or tackle the ball carrier, take them out and score in the same activation. While her 6” KICK seems short ranged, her ability to dodge, combined with her natural speed often allows her to reach the goal.

Fillet has a few toolkit options for when she isn’t directly slicing people up. Quick Foot can either speed her or her teammates up and Pain Circle can be used to push the Bleed condition out for other team mates, or to DMG the opponent or just sap their momentum.

Fillet is vulnerable to Knock Downs – 4+ won’t keep her 14 boxes filled for very long. She should always clear KD when possible – 5+ is hard to hit and might keep her alive.

TIP: Throw Boiler’s Swift Stance on Fillet to take her to 6+ DEF and watch your opponent cry. 6+ DEF Fillet is near unstoppable outside of a few models with column 1 KDs or high TAC (beware Corsair). Add in Meathook’s Tooled Up and while you’ve spent 3 INF, the 6 INF on Fillet will reap a substantial reward with little to fear about losing it before it can be used.

Suggested Beginner Team selection

Make them Bleed: Fillet (C), Truffles, Boiler, Meathook, Brisket1, Shank

TIP: Veteran Ox is a very good player and even Tenderiser has his moments. They have not been included here simply because this focusses on beginner teams.

2: Kick/Receive

Butchers are flexible in kicking or receiving. However it can dictate the captain selection as Fillet provides a lot of kick off pressure and Ox with the ball can setup a powerful turn.

Possible Kicking Strategy

Kick off with Fillet. Move her 7” forward to threaten the enemy team and stack her full of INF. The opponent either has to kill the ball or deal with Fillet. Further activations should be to put Swift Stance and Tooled Up on Fillet. At this point you now have reached Peak Fillet. However you do not need activate Fillet until last – and unless a Tackle/Score opportunity presents itself, it is recommended waiting until last activation. This is to try to allow Fillet to generate maximum momentum and go first in Turn 2. A back to back activation from Fillet is extremely painful. Instead prep the opponent with Thousand Cuts or Dirty Knives if possible.

At 6+ DEF, she is usually too difficult to remove and if they cannot knock her down, extremely dangerous to risk going near. Activate her last, and cut through the enemy, doing as much bleed and DMG as possible to go first Turn 2 and cut the heart out of the opponent. Finish off with a Tackle/Score.

TIP: Fillet is almost untouchable at 6+ but beware low KD models or models that Fillet doesn’t want to get stuck with. Watch out for Fire AOEs that can slow Fillet down.

Possible Receiving Strategy

Hyper Aggressive

Picking Ox, collect the ball and try to pass it around such that it finishes on Ox. Jump Ox forward. Put Swift Stance on Ox and if necessary tough skin to make him 4+/2. Tool him up so that every hit does insane DMG. Last activation for you, pass the ball back to Brisket to setup a goal next turn. Jump Ox again. Then launch Ox into the opponent. Wreck face and earn a pile of momentum. Go first with Ox, pop legendary, rip the heart out of the opponent (take out a model with the most INF), and afterwards send in troops to mop up.

TIP: When Ox jumps 4” forward he is ‘vulnerable’ – watch out for plays such as Puppet Master and Blind. These will waste all the setup you are trying to achieve. This approach is not recommended into Morticians, Hunters or Alchemists for this reason – pick Fillet.

Patient Approach

Similar to the above but rather than launch Ox into the enemy, pass the ball around, generate momentum, bounce Ox forward and leave the ball on Ox. Then first activation Turn 2 jump Ox forward as necessary, legendary and repeat as above.

Maybe just score

Alternatively, pass the ball along to Brisket sitting a central(ish) position. Brisket can then dodge forward 4” from Pass N Go. She can then either put up Super Shot (Brisket1) or dodge forward 2” (Quick Time on Brisket2). From there she can run and potentially score with 22” goal threat.

TIP: Scoring with Brisket2 gives 2 extra INF instead of 1 – the earlier she scores the more you benefit from this.

3: Hurt Me Plenty Strategy

The key to this crew is wrecking face with everyone, applying too many threats that your opponent cannot defend against them all. As you gain more momentum and hopefully start to take out key players, tempo should shift towards you and Brisket can slot home goals to boost your INF and keep the machine rolling.

Working together to smash the enemy’s teeth out – Teamwork yeah!

Ox is the heart of the crew – keeping him alive is important. While the team can continue without him, he takes their DMG output to the next level. He is vulnerable as discussed but this team when working well should generate buckets of momentum and pose multiple threats. Try to put Ox in the second wave (if you haven’t gone hyper aggressive) so that your opponent is already dealing with other players.

Meathook deserves special mention – she is an excellent setup piece to go first. This is because her attacks are extremely effective. With a TAC 6 she can usually hit her target. From there she only needs 1 success to do 1 DMG, generate 1 momentum, set the target Bleeding and Hook the target for -1 DEF. After this, her additional attacks do +1 DMG (and if in Ox’s Aura, more) owing to Smell Blood. Also consider firing off her Heroic Play. Sanguine Pool can freeze enemy players in place.

TIP: Consider attacking different targets with Meathook even if she could concentrate her attacks - Hooked & Bleed on multiple models can be worth more.

TIP: Crucial Artery works with Scything Blow. Consider picking attacks against low DEF models to trigger this on other targets. Hooked does NOT work with Scything blow.

TIP: Scything Blow works with Ox’s Aura’s – look for opportunities to do 5 DMG to multiple models. And set them Bleeding. Joyous fun times.

Boar is a very efficient wrecking ball – for 1 INF you can get up to 4 attacks from him. If he is within Ox’s auras, those attacks will hurt. A lot. With his 2” melee, he can often avoid counter attacks. If he cannot, you will have to waste an attack on KD. However, he will still do a phenomenal amount of DMG. Boar will force your opponent to deal with him - which takes the pressure off Ox. Splitting attention is key for Butchers.

TIP: Consider using Brisket’s Quick Time 2” Dodge on Boar to surprise people.

TIP: People will try to engage Boar to stop his free charge. Use your team mates’ pushes to disengage Boar for dramatic Godzilla moments when he charges.

Boiler should be hanging out with Princess. Princess should try to move in to engage a model that has already activated. Boiler can then move up to engage the target and hit them with +2 TAC and +1 DMG. Combined with Anatomical and Crucial Artery, Boiler can pump out a lot of DMG. While fantastic within Ox’s aura, Boiler and Princess can run independently.

TIP: Marked Target can be used to grant extra threat range to enemy models for Ox or Boar to reach. It is also very easy to trigger in melee so consider picking this if another player’s activation would be wasted.

Brisket’s job is to score goals. Your team might struggle to tackle enemy models so their approach will probably be to cripple them with Sanguine Pool or take them out. Use Brisket to score snap back goals or Tackle people with her 2nd column Tackle.

TIP: Watch out for your opponent bringing players back on the wings – this sucks the fuel out of Ox’s takeout game and can allow them to sneak around and score goals with you out of position. Consider keeping Brisket on one wing and Boiler & Princess on the other.

4: Make Them Bleed Strategy

This crew is all about supporting Fillet do her incredible thing while also putting Bleed on all the things and having multiple credible strikers. It is a surprisingly fast moving team that wants to take the upper hand quickly and hold it by crushing your opponent’s key models and scoring quickly sowing disruption into opponent’s gameplan.

I’m going to cut your heart out with a spoon!

Switching to using Fillet changes the game substantially. Fillet will want maximum INF each turn. Try to use her as a laser guided missile – pick a target, maybe prep it with Meathook or Brisket if you can, then bust it up. However Fillet isn’t just about take outs, she should look to the ball carrier and while potentially busting him up, also Tackle the ball, dodge and look to score or pass the ball back to Brisket.

TIP: Brisket doesn't have to be in range of Fillet's pass - simply passing it back in her direction may be enough to keep it out of enemy hands and set Brisket up.

Meathook works as she did in the other team mostly, but she’ll often want to do Tooled Up more here (especially on Fillet) rather than just enjoy Ox’s Auras. Look to apply Bleed as much as possible. Hooked targets are excellent for Fillet (especially if still Bleeding) as then Fillet can do her thing much easier.

Truffles is in over Princess simply because it can charge for 1 against most targets and has a very low KD (which Fillet lacks). This can disrupt enemy ball carriers, but more importantly prep targets for Fillet and co to attack. It is also possibly the hardest mascot to take out in the game and not worth it to your opponent – so it can wander around disrupting enemy models and generally being annoying.

TIP: Be careful when playing Engineers – most of their team are NOT human. This means Truffles is less effective and probably not worth fielding.

This reduces Boiler’s DMG output but he can either make up for it with Tooled Up or just rely on his native DMG and Bleed to do the work.

Brisket1 is selected here because she can support Fillet more with Dirty Knives, is another very capable Striker with an easy Tackle and is hard for male enemies to attack. Use Brisket and Fillet together to score goals from all over the pitch.

Shank is the final mobility piece. Shank is surprisingly fast and should be used as a sweeper on models that try to escape, as well as a potential goal scorer with his natural speed. His 4” dodge can be used against teams using goalkeepers to avoid triggering their Rush Keeper rule allowing them free charges.

This team is about speed and target selection. It lacks the brute force approach of Ox, but instead can run rings around slow opponents and tries to reduce their options. By putting out DMG and Bleed, it looks to sap opponent’s momentum and keep the upper hand. Unlike Ox, if Fillet is taken out she can often just zoom back onto the pitch and continue wrecking the place (look out for Fast Terrain)!

5: Guild Weaknesses & Other Guilds

The Butchers as discussed are fragile to enemy attacks and need to remove these threats. They have few janky Character Plays and their gameplan can be dismissed by enemy players as ‘simple’. This is an over simplification, and can be exploited by Butchers but it is true that in the main, Butchers need to be in melee to impact the game. This means they need to expose themselves to counter attacks. To avoid their prey simply dodging away, Butcher coaches need to be creative.

The first option is to KD the opponent. Many models have access to KD but it’s not a Guild focus so you may find this hard to hit. The second option is boosting DEF to high enough value to make counter attacks a waste through Swift Stance. 5+/6+ models are annoying to hit and only low results will trigger – this will dissuade some counters. Other options are to crowd the target out, attack from cover etc. Where 2” melee is available, use this to pick on 1” targets. Alternative options are the death by a thousand cuts approach – charge/walk models in to make one attack only. By forcing your opponent to risk burning through momentum for limited gain you can keep tempo. Use a ‘wasted’ INF on Character plays.

TIP: Even if Ox is pushed out of combat, simply spend his INF on Character Plays and then his Aura can still be doing tremendous work.

When playing Ox, avoid splitting up the party as Ox’s big selling point is his aura. However you might want to consider splitting off 1-2 players to sweep the wings in case your opponent dishonourably runs away! Fillet’s team is more mobile and usually has less issues splitting up. But concentrated force is still more effective than diffused effort.

It’s no surprise that the Guilds that Butchers struggle with the most are Alchemists and Engineers. Both seek to NOT get bogged down in melee combat and have multiple tools to frustrate a Butcher player. Into these teams Fillet is usually a better choice, but beware both Guilds can muster formidable melee combatants. The only option is to often to adopt the hyper aggressive strategy of ‘running madly towards them’ and let those that survive help you generate momentum to take back tempo. Any Butcher plyer is a credible threat. I find that Shank is particularly good for this as he is deceptively mobile. If you have the ball you have the power in these match ups so use that wisely to generate momentum and dodge players as required.


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22 hours ago, EpicChris said:

even Butchers need to score goals


But seriously, it's a great write up. I learnt some things reading it, and I've been playing Butchers almost exclusively since retail release.

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Epic work thanks!

The only clarification you should make is that Briskets with pass&go have 22" threat range, not 24". This makes the "Maybe just score" plan really tight (although still doable).

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12 minutes ago, angyi said:

Epic work thanks!

The only clarification you should make is that Briskets with pass&go have 22" threat range, not 24". This makes the "Maybe just score" plan really tight (although still doable).

Oops Math fail. Ta.

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I do love the turn one goal with Vet Brisket.  Usually will throw swift stance and tough skin on her.  let her charge in from the wing and just bounce off someone and pound it in the goal and just form up a murder cage on my half of the pitch with the rest of the team.  Daring the other player to come to me.

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