This is a serious attempt at addressing an important issue. I try to address the issue without simply complaining about it, so people can understand the underlying nature of the problem. I then offer two solutions which I feel are very plausible in the current state of the game. It's long and not a casual read. I welcome any critical feedback or comments.
Tabletop Lizardmen are defined by 4 traits:
- Cold-Blooded - improves morale test
- Scaly Skin - improves armor save
- Aquatic - strider in wet terrain
- Predatory Fighters - improve attack with the chance to pursue unless a skink is present
Three of these were fairly easily translated for TWW into higher morale, higher armor, and strider. The fourth seemed to be implemented in the spirit it was intended but with problematic consequences.Predatory Fighters'
improved attack was traded for spotting hidden units. And a chance to pursue an engaged enemy was traded for a loss of control if damage was taken past a certain threshold.
In the tabletop Predatory Fighters has a very pro/con synergy. Your saurus and kroxigors have a chance at attacking more often, with the risk of chasing a unit you chose to engage with
. Yes, the loss of control mechanic is there, but there is a very subtle but key distinction: the opportunity to lose control is based on the lizardmen player's action NOT by his opponent's action.
This is a key distinction that must be understood. To give an example:
In Tabletop if your saurus are shot at there is zero chance they will pursue (rampage). If they are attacked by another unit there is zero chance they will pursue (rampage). It is only when they attack and roll critical that they have a chance to pursue (rampage).
This rule is completely reversed in Total War Warhammer as rampage is activated by a unit taking damage. Damage is only ever done by the opposing player. This means that it is always
the opposing player who is deciding when a lizardman unit goes into rampage and never the lizardmen player as the LM player is never desiring his unit to take damage.
Two identical melee engagements in TT vs TWW: A unit of saurus engages in melee combat with a unit of debuffed infantry with 0 melee attack.
the saurus roll critical 6's, gain extra attacks, fall into "rampage", and then must pursue the unit because of their predatory instinct.
In Total War Warhammer
there is no chance of rampage occurring because the enemy unit is debuffed to a 0 attack and cannot damage the saurus and therefor can never activate their rampage mechanic.Let's take a brief aside
and examine the lore and nature of this special rule and lizardmen. The Predatory psychology is applied because these are animalistic fighters who can forget their more sentient side in the heat of combat. They are bred to fight and have the instincts of carnivorous attack machines. The original rule is based on the loss of control as they see their prey flee from them, like a hunting animal who cannot resist the chase. This is entirely in line with the psychology of these creatures. They are not driven into a mindless state of rage, they are driven into a lust for the chase.
That is a very important distinction. What the TWW version of rampage is saying is that doing enough damage drives a unit into a mindless state, like an animal in a bear trap that rages against everything around it. That might be a valid argument to make about animal psychology, but it was never the original rule and it has very difficult consequences.Now back to our argument about mechanics.
There is another thing to consider in the transition of the original tabletop Predatory Fighters rule to Rampage, and that is Frenzy
. In tabletop the Frenzy rule was even more impactful to a player's control of their units than the Predatory Fighter Rule. Units with Frenzy had to take a leadership roll when in position to charge in order to avoid
Please understand the significance here. A unit with Frenzy had to resist charging the enemy line if they were merely in position to be able to do so. No damage needed to be traded. No attack had to first occur. They merely had to be looking at the juicy enemy target and they might not be able to control themselves from just running headlong into them. This meant a unit with frenzy could run right into a wall of spears or an enemy which could counter them.
Would all the other factions players enjoy watching their units with Frenzy just run at the enemy, completely out of their control and likely to their doom, merely by being close enough to do so? Would that be a fun mechanic?
Why is it frenzy is not treated this way and predatory sense is treated this way? Ponder that.On to my suggestions for Rampage and the Lizardmen in general.
There have been some great points made about stat comparisons and whether rampage can even be considered a trade-off negative ability as saurus stats/price comparisons with other units of comparable price are not that amazing. I'm going to avoid this and merely talk about the mechanic itself and the lizardmen as a whole.
There are two methods I will suggest for keeping the "loss of control" mechanic which will minimize the pain the lizardmen player feels.Method 1: Never Give up, Never Surrender
This method takes into account the cold-blooded nature which grants high morale and the predatory nature which causes a loss of control and need to continue the chase/fight. Rampage is NOT activated by damage at all, a saurus unit can be down to 1 model and not go into rampage. Instead Rampage is activated by morale loss. When a unit is going to route or break it instead enters Rampage and pursues whatever is nearest, exactly as it currently does.
The idea here is that Saurus are bred for war and disciplined fighters, bu they are not unthinking robots. When they are pushed past their limits of mental endurance they lose their sentient ability to follow commands and instead regress into their animalistic nature. Being predators made for battle they do not flee but instead go into a hunt or die mindset and will attack anything they see, regardless of the risk to themselves.
This method closely follows the current mechanic in many ways but without the frequent activation that currently occurs. It also allows the lizardman player FAR more control over preventing rampage from occurring as there are many methods to keep morale high. It also synergizes far more naturally with how armies are controlled as maintaining high morale is already something you want to do. It means that having a lord or hero nearby will help prevent rampage and they help boost morale, and it gives more levers to the player as there are many spells and items which keep morale up. It evens allows for the current change to Cold Blooded to work even more effectively as that now removes rampage and improves morale, thereby regaining control of that unit for real if morale can be repaired for good.
The enemy player still has the capacity to cause rampage as they can target morale with spells, rear charges, and inflicting catastrophic losses. This is more of a challenge however as causing units to route is not as easy as merely applying damage.
Consider the "challenge" of choosing a unit to throw into rampage through ranged attacks before the main engagement, versus choosing a unit to route through the same method (hint: it doesn't really happen in the ranged phase). You have to catch units out of place and alone to cause routing before the main engagement has even occurred, that requires good tactical play. Telling all your range to fire at "that group of saurus or that feral dino" doesn't compare with the forethought needed to catch a unit out of position with cavalry or skirmishers. Method 2: I'm Winning, now want Food!
This method tries to mimic the original rule while still fitting the TWW way of play. It returns full control of rampage to the Lizardman player with zero chance that the enemy player can initiate rampage. It also goes into the buff/debuff territory of giving Predatory Sense a bonus to attack with the offset of a risk of loss of control. This method would also allow for even more units to be affected by a possible loss of control since it is entirely in the player's hands.
Similar to Norsca's Berserk and Rage, Predatory Sense is a ramping-up ability with a high risk. When a Lizardman unit is Winning combat he starts to gain slight bonuses to attack with the risk of eventually entering a Rampage status of total loss of control.
When combat is even or losing the unit's stats are unchanged.
When Slightly Winning combat there is a +2 MA
When Winning combat there is a +4 MA
When Significantly Winning there is a +6 MA and the unit either goes directly into Rampage or has a High Chance of entering Rampage.
Again, this closely mimics the original intention of the Predatory nature of the Lizardmen. The bloodlust of being highly successful at attacking an enemy can cause their hunting instincts to take over and they see their foe as prey instead of enemy.
This is a far more dynamic ability as it both rewards the player while at the same time possibly heavily punishing them BUT it is always at the player's own discretion. The player is in total control and must decide when to risk this possible loss of control.
Consider the scenarios when throwing your saurus and kroixgors into combat. Do you want to mulch through that line of hundreds of skaven slaves with your saurus infantry when it is almost entirely assured that they will go into Rampage at the ease with which they will slaughter pathetic ratmen? Will the enemy player taunt and lure you with such juicy targets that he knows will obviously die but at the same time removing highly valuable and expensive units from your control? Do you wish to improve your stalemate battle of saurus against mid-to-higher tier infantry with a spell boosting their combat stats, which will steamroll into even higher Melee Attack when they start winning, but risk losing control of them?
These now become decisions you make as the player controlling your units instead of merely watching in frustration as a negative status effect merely occurs
to your units completely out of your control.
In conclusion: There are definitely ways of making a loss of control effect work without frustrating the player. It's an interesting concept in theory but must always be treated with extreme care and forethought. Loss of control in a game is not something to be treated lightly. We enjoy these games precisely because we directly control our units, even when it does not make logical sense how that could happen. How does the commander of an army control the exact path a group of war hounds take as they charge a mile behind the enemy lines? No military commander controls the exact pathing of his human squads even in modern warfare. This is obviously something that happens in the game because we enjoy controlling these units directly instead of giving general orders and hoping things turn out well as we watch "thinking" soldiers out of our control.
The key is putting the activation of this mechanic, and as much "control" in the loss of unit control, into the hands of the player who owns these units instead of his opponent's. That takes away the feeling of hopelessness and frustration as much as possible while still adding the wild gamble of using an animalistic faction.