Monday, August 19, 2013

is Butcher3 the New Makeda3?

So GenCon is this weekend, and while I of course didn't attend, there was still plenty to talk about with the pre-release models that have given us stat cards for models that were played surprising close to the chest by Privateer Press. As an aside, I like how PP handles their spoilers and pre-releases. they give you just enough info to keep you interested, but hold back enough that you don't know all the stats of all the models before a release. take Gargantuans for example. before the book came out we had rules for 80% of the book. but that last 20% that got dropped on us the day the book released had some very very tasty stuff in it.

Anyways, back on topic. several models are now out and in the wild that we had no info on before this weekend. Eiryss3 is pretty cool, but I don't have much to say about her. she's what you want from Eiryss (upkeep removal) plus AD, reform and fearless. very good model, very easy to see her applications. she's going to be with infiltrators 99% of the time. I might write something about her in the future, for now that's all I have to say about her.

The really interesting one is Butcher 3. As always, a caster release will dominate any discussion just because of how much your caster affects everything in your game. And this guy looks crazy. I mean Butcher has always been talked about as a one-man wrecking crew, but as you look at his cards he has slowly been losing more and more of his marbles and any desire to support his army. from pButcher who really just used iron flesh a lot and went Xerxis for a turn to eButcher who could go crazy berserk but often left that to Fenris or his Eliminators, we now have possibly the most insane super-solo yet to be released.

Back up a minute. why am I talking about a Khador caster? I thought this was a Skorne blog. So the reason Butcher caught my eye is that he reminded me an awful lot about Makeda3, who I have been playing almost every week and loving to pieces. In fact after looking through his abilities and spells and some of the theory machine going on I couldn't help drawing comparisons. So many comparisons that it was begging for an article. And, I had to ask myself, if they're so similar why was the internet's response to butcher3 the spinning up of the DoomCycle when their reaction to Makeda only a little while ago was a resounding "meh"?

So let's talk about some basic comparisons we can draw between the two
* both are Fury/Focus 6
* both are caster units
* the "grunts" in these units are there for utility, not raw damage output
* both have very long threat ranges in ideal conditions
* both have a reach, weaponmaster, high P+S weapon (makeda has to have an upkeep to make it happen)
* both have spells that give extra movement
* both have feats that refill their focus/fury

so let's break them down into categories, Deadliest Warrior style and see who comes out on top in pure theory-machine

Profile stats

being built as front-line casters, they have a fairly similar basic statline. I was a little surprised when I actually went and compared the numbers though that there is a bit of difference. Butcher has one more Mat and Arm (base), but Makeda has one more speed and defense and 3 more command. she can also go above Arm 18 pretty easily, but more on that in a minute.

Speed is obviously important for a melee caster, and that 1 inch a turn can make a difference. defense 15 is a good solid caster defense, while 14 is low for a caster. Command is a big deal for a unit, letting Makeda's bodyguards spread out further than the Argus (Agrii? Arguses? Argeese?) can from Butcher.

So slight advantages in most stats for Makeda, added to the slight advantage of being a warlock and having the transfer mechanic, I'm giving the edge on this one to Makeda.

Unit abilities

Being two of the four existing warlock/warcaster units, we should look at what these units offer their casters. neither one has nearly as much utility as a unit as Hunters Grim, but both are useful. it's a little hard to compare the two units, since they work so differently. in straight-up combat the Argus certainly have more options with gang, sprint, and combo-strike compared to no special combat rules for the Exalted Cohort. both have 2 base attacks, though the Cohort start at 1 higher P+S. The cohort also have a higher base Mat, making them less reliant on gang. The cohort also seems more survivable with 4 higher Arm

Let's be honest, you're not looking at either unit for their combat prowess. they both have important jobs supporting their caster. The Argus give relentless charge, letting butcher go through rough terrain or over small walls. they also allow him to take advantage of vengeance if one of them dies. the cohort also help when one gets injured, but they offer +2 Arm, +2 Str and pathfinder. with battle-driven up, the cohort goes up to Arm 20 and their attacks become Mat 8 pow 14 attacks (and magical for when that comes up). they also get this advantage without having to actually lose a model since it triggers on damage to any of the three models in the unit. the other big thing the Cohort brings is shield guard. this lets Battle Driven go up much easier since they can take a shot for one of your other important models even if your opponent is trying to avoid triggering their main ability. 2 free shield guards is kind of a big deal

This one is a close one. Both core abilities are reliant on your opponent doing something for you. an extra 3" for butcher is a really scary thing, but so is making Makeda get even better stats than she started with. the passive abilities are both good, though shield guard probably beats out pathfinder. We'll call this one a draw, since I think butcher gets a better reactive ability, but Makeda has a better passive ability in shield guard.

Caster abilities and special rules

Both casters have the abilities mentioned in the unit entry above, battle driven and vengeance. I won't count those in this section.

Aside from being a warlock unit and having vengeance, the only other ability Butcher brings is terror. this is a big deal with his feat, but not normally a huge deal due to so many units being fearless. it's a nice ability, don't get me wrong, but not usually something to write home about.

Speaking of morale... Makeda has inspiration [skorne] just like her previous versions. doesn't do much for her unit since she's a warlock, but can keep the few non-fearless skorne models like paingivers and swordsmen from running away from big scary things.

Makeda also has one of her coolest abilities in this section, Blood Boon. it's situational in that it only works when you kill a living model, but it allows a free spell. we'll talk about spell lists next, but she has 2 good options on her own card, and can also use this ability to cast one of the many great Skorne animi. Who am I kidding? She uses this for Fate Walker. almost every time.

I have to give the edge here to Makeda. I may be biased playing a faction that is generally beasts and fearless troops, but terror isn't all that impressive. Makeda's abilities both have a nice impact on your average game, especially Blood Boon.


OK, this one is going to be a landslide. You don't even have to read tot he end of the section. Butcher wins. no, not just wins, Butcher DOMINATES this category. eMorghoul was already feeling bad that he hasn't seen the outside of my bag since Makeda was released, then they go and give the freaking Butcher 2 of 3 spells off of Morghouls card. Flashing blade sucks on morghoul. it's amazing on a reach pow 16 weaponmaster. silence of death was the one thing morghoul really offered. silence of death on butcher is just silly. and it'll usually be upkept for free by that little elf traitor.

but you know, being a Warcaster they couldn't leave it at only 2 awesome spells. they also gave him Energizer (which works on the doggies as well) to move his stuff even more during a turn. they gave him a bit of a throw-away with obliteration, since he won't usually spend his whole stack for one AOE attack. but then they decided those spells weren't enough and invented a brand new one that drags in everyone within 5". for only 2 points of focus!

That Escalated Quickly

Makeda, as much as I love you, you just can't stand up in this category. you use a spell to become a weaponmaster that butcher gets for free (yes it lets titans become weaponmasters as well which is amazing, but still). Energizer is like Eliminator but without having to make any successful attack rolls. granted eliminator can be cast multiple times, and can really stretch threat ranges but that's not enough. impending doom is so much better than ground zero it's not even funny. and I hear she has a fourth spell, but I've never had to say it out loud during a game.

yeah, let's move on


these feats are both really good. in an ideal board state, they will both probably end the game with a souped-up caster killing the opponent.

Butcher's feat turn looks like this: (possible vengeance move) + Eliminator for 3" + charge something (8") + Impending doom to drag in a caster from 5" out. buy 1 flashing blade attack. feat. buy 6 flashing blade attacks at Mat 9, pow 16 weaponmaster. oh, and he has silence of death so tough or transfers are irrelevant. His feat also makes units auto-fail command checks which they will be taking due to that Terror ability I mentioned. if he kills your caster that part won't matter but if you didn't bring fearless troops it's going to make it very very hard to mount a counter-attack.

Makeda's is a little less straight-forward but also very very deadly. I won't go through the details in this article, but you can essentially choose between Makeda going up to a max of 12 fury (before even spending a fury) then doing some combination of eliminators and bought attacks to get to the enemy caster where she will likely have 5+ fury left over to buy pow 15 or 17 weaponmaster attacks at mat 8. Or she can let Karn go surfing, removing fury every time he kills a model, eventually making it to the enemy caster with a full 5 buys left over. or you can have Makeda and Karn both go nuts but not kill the enemy caster and end the turn with 5 or 6 transfers on Makeda and end the turn with Makeda and Karn making a fate walker move to safety and exchange a fist-bump.

It might be my own bias and the number of games I have with Makeda, or how much I simply love using that feat, but I'm going to give the edge to Makeda here. she can easily gain more than 6 fury on an activation, but the feat also allows her beasts to do more and allows her to buy an absurd number of attacks and STILL have transfers at the end of a round. compared to just refilling focus and making infantry run away. ok, I may be undervaluing auto-breaking command checks. time will tell I guess.


This is one of the spots I think people overlook when they're talking about how gross Butcher is going to be. a medium-based caster with no defensive help at all is going to be tough to keep alive. Sure he has high base arm and no reason not to camp until he's ready to go for the throat. that's nice, but won't always keep him alive. Def 14 is low for a caster. serious shooting lists with things like Rekoners, Ravagores, Stormwalls etc will have multiple turns to blast butcher and nick away at those 20 boxes. in a time where everyone has an answer to arm 20+ collosals, a medium based guy needs more than Arm 24 to stay alive. you might have to bring some medium infantry just to keep him alive, and Khador doesn't have the best medium infantry. there are options, like keeping him behind some Drakuns with Silence of Death. that's pretty scary. but he's still very killable.

Makeda has all sorts of defensive tricks up her sleeve. high arm for a warlock that gets better after the first hit. 2 free shield guards that also get harder to kill after one shot. having a small base. having transfers (usually more than one. sometimes a lot more than one). and animi like the Krea and Molik that you will always have in a Makeda3 list. High armor and boxes is nice. High armor plus a set of defensive tricks is even better. Makeda wins this round.


I think Makeda comes out on top in this matchup. she is on par or better in every category except for her spell list, and has proven to be a very solid in the games I've used her in, including Lock and Load. Despite that, Butcher has a lot more people worried than Mekeda ever did. Why is that?

I think a big part of it is the very simple ax-to-face style Butcher brings. it doesn't take much to see how you can use him to kill just about anything in the game. it doesn't matter what you bring with him, they just need to distract the opponenet long enough for Butcher to go kill everything with impending doom and flashing blade. Makeda can kill almost anything butcher can, but only in ideal situations. usually it's the army, not Makeda that seals the deal.

So what was the point of all this? It was mostly just a reaction to some over-the-top Butcher reviews and reactions I saw this weekend, like this one from the Overseer. Butcher hasn't even been on the table yet and people are spinning up the Doom Cycle. If nothing else, I wanted this article to remind people that this happens every time a new models comes out, even if they're not that much better than an existing model.

Maybe Butcher will prove to be better than I expect. maybe he'll change the landscape like Morvhanna did. maybe that crazy spell list really will make him over-the-top and put him in the company of the seriously crazy spell lists like eGaspy and eHaley. More likely he'll be drawing a whole lot of new players to Khador who want to play with the crazy ax guy and his doggies, but who eventually move on to using the rest of the Khador casters.

Meanwhile, eMorghoul will be in his room crying into his fan.

1 comment:

  1. Nice writeup!

    Butcher 3 and Makeda 3 play very similar games. Ideally, they both want to force the opponent's hand in scenario play, and threaten tough to counter assassinations.

    I currently have 2 games in against Butcher 3, one of them with Makeda 3. Butcher ended up winning it on scenario, but had a bit of a scare with Molik on turn 3 (he ended up running into a corner and camping 5, and Molik couldn't finish him off). I was very nervous about the matchup going in, since Butcher 3 will slaughter Makeda 3 if he gets to her. But he's actually very vulnerable to her too, and she and Molik threat very far. It's definitely a very fun game.