This is a topic that has been bugging me for a while. I have seen people talk about Butchers ignoring the ball and going for 6 takeouts for the win. It is the prevailing opinion that because Butchers are the best at making takeouts that they should concentrate on that. This is wrong.
From the first I learned how to play this game (with the victory points) I realized that if Butchers could make a goal, the game would be much easier. It is a lot easier for make 6 takeouts than 8. I don’t think Butchers should try to make two goals, but should prioritize making one goal.
Let me first talk about my personal experiences to illustrate the point. I have played in two tournaments so far. I played Butchers in both. I went 2-1 at the St. Louis Open B and 2-2 in the Capital Guild Ball event. Placed in the top half. Every game I won I scored a goal. Every game I lost I failed to make a goal or was prevented from making a goal. Going into both tournaments I had the idea to make a goal, if the situation presented itself. I did not make it a priority to make a goal, but to make it if I had the opportunity. I have changed my mind on the subject. It has become apparent to me that I need to make a goal. I now have a strategy: make a goal mid to late game.
Here’s what caused this change: There was a game against the another Butchers team where he got the ball and just held onto it all game. I’m pretty sure his plan was to hold onto the ball and fight me. I was ahead in that fight the whole time. At one point I needed 4 points to win. I saw him with the ball and decided that it would be easier to get two take outs. That was a mistake. He saw his opportunity to take that ball to the goal for the win. It was very effective for him to hold the ball as denial while beating me up.
This is now my plan: If I can get the ball early I will hold it for a couple turns. Protect the ball holder and fight. Get to the point where the goal will win me the game or get me within 1 takeout. In this strategy I need the ball holder to be close to (or on) the opponent’s side of the pitch with the other players around the ball holder fighting off anyone that comes for the ball. If the opponent has the ball wait for the opponent to score and then kick it towards one of your players and follow the plan from before. If the opponent holds onto the ball to keep it out of play look for the opportunity to take that ball and score. Even if the opponent immediately gets the ball back and bunkers up again you’ve scored the goal that makes winning easier.
Lets look at some stats, because I like math and people are mistaken about Butchers not being that good with the ball.
Ball stats by player:
Brisket: 3/8″ (4/10″ with Super Shot)
The Hat: 2/6″
Anyone with at least two dice has a base 75% chance of hitting a 4 on two dice for a goal. Even if you are reduced to 1 die from modifiers it is possible to bonus time it for 2 and have a good chance. Also, even needing a 5+ for the goal is a 55% chance with 2 dice. Not the best results, but not the worst.
Now, lets look at two particular players: Brisket and Shank. Brisket is obviously good at handling balls (grow up). She can put that ball in there. She has a low tackle result. Everyone knows that. Now Shank. Shank has a tackle on 2 results. He has “Where’d they go” and (momentous) dodge results in almost every column. He starts at 2 dice and can get to 3 with bonus time (87.5% chance of making the goal at 4+ and 70% chance at 5+). Even if you don’t have Brisket in the list, Shank can get that ball where it needs to go. (I have also heard that Gutter and Decimate can do this, but I have managed to play only pure guild so far! 🙂 )
Summary: Getting 1 goal with the Butchers makes that game easier and more likely to win. It should be a priority to get that goal and the Butchers DO have the tools to do so.