|As of Master of Magic v1.31, Rampaging Monster is known to be malfunctioning in at least one way. Please read the Known Bugs section below.|
Rampaging monsters are aggressive battle units spawning occasionally from a not yet defeated Encounter Zone; once spawned, they will head for a nearby non-neutral city and attack it. Other than the fact that they will always come from the same magical Realm, rampaging monster spawns are totally unrelated to the contents of their source site -- a Nature Node filled with Great Wyrms might spawn a single unit of Sprites, a Dungeon containing a single unit of Skeletons might spawn a half dozen Zombies and a Demon.
Generating Rampaging Monsters Edit
The game determines whether it should attempt to create a group of Rampaging Monsters by implementing a global accumulator that is increased by a certain amount at the end of each turn. When this accumulator reaches a pre-defined treshold, it is reset, and MoM will try to create a monster group. If the process fails at any time after this, then the chance is wasted and no creatures are spawned. The first reason why this could happen is if the game has not commenced to Turn 50 yet, which is the pre-set delay for activating this feature. However, by that time, the accumulator is likely reset multiple times, meaning that there is no way to predict when the first instance of Rampaging Monsters will spawn (except for maybe the "Intro" Difficulty, see below).
Rampaging Monsters can be generated from any Encounter Zone containing Chaos, Death, Nature or Sorcery Fantastic Creatures, that is on the same continent as a non-Neutral Town. MoM will try up to 1,000 times to pick a random Encounter Zone that matches these criteria. Sites created with no monsters inside (i.e. only Treasure) are exempt, but otherwise it's safe to assume that if there are any valid sites, the game will find one.
The frequency of Rampaging Monster spawns depends on the rules governing the accumulator which, in turn, are set out by the game's Difficulty. Both the per-turn increments and the spawn treshold are Difficulty-dependent, and the increments also involve a random factor when playing above the lowest Difficulty ("Intro" in the official game). Essentially, it is the maximum increment that is defined by the Difficulty, while the actual value will vary from turn to turn. This is illustrated by the table below:
|Intro||1||1||50||1 / 50 Turns||Turn × 0.4||Turn × 0.4|
|Easy||1 - 2||1.5||45||1 / 30 Turns||Turn × (0.4 - 0.8)||Turn × 0.6|
|Normal||1 - 3||2||40||1 / 20 Turns||Turn × (0.4 - 1.2)||Turn × 0.8|
|Hard||1 - 4||2.5||35||1 / 14 Turns||Turn × (0.4 - 1.6)||Turn × 1|
|Impossible||1 - 5||3||30||1 / 10 Turns||Turn × (0.4 - 2.0)||Turn × 1.2|
There is also another factor that can independently increase the accumulator for Rampaging Monsters. Similar to this mechanic, Raiders can also spawn from Neutral Towns, except these are always Normal Units from the Town's Race, rather than Fantastic Creatures. If the game fails to create Raiders when their own accumulator fills up, despite there still being at least one Neutral City on the map, it will instantly increase the Rampaging Monster accumulator by 15 instead. This generally happens when the only remaining Neutral Towns are on continents that have no non-Neutral ones (or the only ones that share a landmass have no garrisons). This circumstance makes Rampaging Monsters much more frequent, and may be especially noticeable on the lower difficulties.
Monster Stack Contents Edit
When a unit of Rampaging Monsters is generated, the game starts by selecting a mana budget with which to buy creatures. This budget is determined by the Difficulty level and game turn, as is shown in the last two columns of the previous table. These ranges are achieved by generating two random numbers in the same range as the accumulator increment, adding them together, multiplying the result with the turn number, and dividing by 5. Perhaps a better illustration is to provide some example budgets. The next table shows the average budget values for a given turn (highlighted in italics are the values that coincide with the average monster spawn frequency from above):
The budget is halved if the Rampaging Monsters are on the same continent as an AI Wizard's Fortress, except if that continent also houses the human player's Fortress (in which case the game retains the original budget).
Once a budget has been generated, the game starts picking random Fantastic Creatures from the same Realm as the monsters in the source Encounter Zone, one at a time, until its budget is used up. The algorithm used is different from the one generating the Encounter Zone guardians. No divisors are used, the program simply tries 2,000 times to choose a random creature, and adds it to the group if it satisfies the criteria (i.e. it is of the correct Realm and its cost is lower than the budget). Once the budget falls under 25, the process is aborted before another monster is picked. The possible creatures and costs, by Realm, are as follows:
It's worth noting that the cheapest creature (Phantom Warriors) costs less than treshold for aborting the monster selection. This was likely done to further delay the first appearance of Rampaging Monsters on the "Intro" Difficulty, which will never have a sufficient budget to spawn creatures from any site on Turn 50 this way. Disregarding the accumulator increases from failed Raiders generation, the first instance of Rampaging Monsters on this Difficulty should then occur on Turn 100 or 150 if a non-Nature spawn site is chosen, and Turn 200 from any Encounter Zone. The earliest that a single unit of Zombies can show up is Turn 70, but this can only happen if both preceding attempts at creating Raiders were unsuccessful (on Turns 30 and 60 respectively).
|Easy||Turn × 0.5||Turn × 0.5|
|Normal||Turn × (0.5 - 1.0)||Turn × 0.75|
|Hard||Turn × (0.5 - 1.5)||Turn × 1.0|
|Extreme||Turn × (0.5 - 2.0)||Turn × 1.25|
|Impossible||Turn × (0.5 - 2.5)||Turn × 1.5|
- The unofficial Insecticide patch makes several changes related to Rampaging Monsters. The introduction of a new Difficulty Setting, and removal of the previous lowest one, shifts the rampage accumulator rules accordingly (the Difficulty system itself remains intact). However, in terms of base creature budget, Insecticide uses a divisor of 4 instead of the original game's 5, resulting in 25% higher budgets overall, as illustrated by the table on the right.
- Insecticide also introduces a new option in the Game Settings: "Monsters Gone Wild", created specifically to enhance Rampaging Monsters. Enabling this has two distinctive effects:
- All Rampaging Monster budgets are doubled.
- Monster budgets on AI-only continents are never halved either.
- In addition, the patch also lowers the minimum budget that adding a creature may be attempted with to 20, thus enabling Phantom Warriors to again be added to a stack if the remaining budget is below 25, but still enough for this unit. On the other hand, this minimum is still above the new cost of Skeletons (see below).
- Finally, Insecticide alters the cost of several monsters across the board. Although seemingly intended to change the costs that are used for generating Encounter Zones (as indicated by simultaneous changes to costs of Life creatures, which are not listed here), they are implemented in the wrong file for this purpose. However, they do affect the creation of Rampaging Monsters; generally making earlier stacks of them more powerful, by allowing the computer to spawn more units from the same budget. The revised creature costs are as follows:
Altered Rampaging Monster Costs in v1.40n: Realm Creatures Death Unit Cost 15 60 150 (was 30) (was 80) (was 250) Nature Unit Cost 50 (was 70) Sorcery Unit Cost 100 225 150 (was 120) (was 170) (was 225)
- It's worth noting that these changes carry over into the Unofficial Patch 1.50 as well, which itself does not alter them any further. At the same time though, it does update the creature costs for the purposes of generating Encounter Zones. This results in there being considerable discrepancies between the cost of monsters, when being selected for populating the sites, versus spawning Rampaging Monsters:
Creature Cost Discrepancies in v1.50: Realm Creatures Death Unit Zone Cost 25 80 125 200 300 Rampage Cost 15 60 80 250 250 Nature Unit Zone Cost 70 150 225 300 600 Rampage Cost 50 200 275 160 599 Sorcery Unit Zone Cost 50 120 200 325 Rampage Cost 20 100 150 225
Rampaging Monster Behavior Edit
One turn after they spawn, Rampaging Monsters will head towards a Town they can reach. This is not always the closest Settlement, and be aware that most Sorcery stacks can cross water to reach a destination. If they are not destroyed before arriving at the Town, they will attack and, if victorious, will do one of two things (with a 50% chance for either):
- Rampage through the town and disappear into the wilderness: the owner loses Gold and Fame based on the size of the Town, and the Rampaging Monsters vanish.
- Raze the Town: the owner loses Gold and Fame based on the size of the Town, and the Settlement is turned into a Ruins with a garrison of the Rampaging Monsters (the two highest cost ones if there are more than two types), and a treasure of the Gold lost in the conquest. Before the Unofficial Patch 1.50, this option will never be chosen if the attacked City contains a Wizard's Fortress. This not only means that Rampaging Monsters are incapable of banishing or defeating a player, but may also provide an "easy way out" of having to deal with them (see below), which is likely why it was removed in v1.50. In all versions of the game however, this is the only circumstance in the game with the potential of creating a new Encounter Zone outside of the world generation process.
It's also worth noting that even if the game is set to display enemy moves, it will not show the spawning of these monsters (i.e. they don't move out of the Encounter Zone they are created from). This means that unless they are spotted directly, the player will only become aware of their presence a turn later, when they actually start moving.
Rampaging Monsters can be a substantial irritant throughout the game, even in the official version, where they can not kill or banish players. While they are not enormously strong, maintaining a garrison in every Town which would be sufficient to deal with them is often an impractical expense. However, as overland spells that can hurt or destroy enemy armies are typically not available until the later stages of the game (and even if they are, they take many turns to cast with early Spell Casting Skills), the player usually needs to leverage the threat that any nearby Encounter Zones represent early on, versus the cost of keeping up a standing army in the surrounding Towns.
Early Game Edit
It is almost always beneficial to scout the vicinity of at least the player's starting City. However, while Rampaging Monsters can not appear before the 50th turn, it's worth remembering that Raiders may be generated much sooner than that (even as early as on turn 6 on "Impossible" Difficulty). This means that if there are neutral Towns nearby, they will often pose a much greater initial threat, and preparations for dealing with them will thus be more important.
On the other hand, as long as there is no immediate risk of Raiders, it is generally safe to spend the first 50 turns exploring and, if there are promising sites nearby, expanding. It's typically worth scouting every Encounter Zone in the vicinity not only for the possibility of freebies (i.e. unguarded sites), but also because knowing what Realm of creatures inhabit them may be helpful in preparing against them. For instance, since Life Encounters do not generate Rampaging Monsters, Towns around them may not need a garrison at all. Other Realms may present different priorities for trying to obtain specific spells, or develop certain types of units.
Naturally, the best way to deal with Rampaging Monsters is to simply clear all nearby Encounter Zones, or at least the ones that are on continents where the player is starting on, or settling. However, this is not always viable, and will usually not be an option on "Large" Land Size maps, or when starting on Myrror. In these cases, or when the player is otherwise placed on the same continent as an AI Wizard's Fortress, it will often be inevitable to have to protect every Town with a unit or two. While a single troop of Spearmen may be sufficient based on the available spells and Mana, having two has the added benefit of also reducing Unrest in the Town by one.
Recruiting units early on opens up several possibilities to tackle Rampaging Monster spawns from nearby sites. If there is at least one turn of warning before they arrive, a garrison may be raised by simply buying out the Production of a unit. When several Encounter Zones are clumped together, a well-placed scouting unit may also alleviate the need to keep standing forces in multiple Towns this way, provided that there is enough Gold in the treasury to purchase units when needed.
Combat Spells Edit
- As long as there is at least one unit in a Town, combat spells may be cast during an assault. Indeed, the Rampaging Monsters can also be attacked on the field, before they ever even get close to their destination, for the same effect. If there are several units available, they can attack the creatures one at a time, allowing the use of a full Casting Skill's worth of spells every time. Besides having a unit to attack (or defend) with though, this tactic naturally also requires ample Mana reserves to cast the spells from.
- Some Realms of Rampaging Monsters have particular weaknesses against certain spells that can be exploited. The earliest groups, for example, will frequently be of the Death Realm, as it is the most common Encounter Zone color with cheap creatures. These monsters are all susceptible to True Light, Star Fires, and Bless. The latter two of these spells also work against Chaos units, which are featured more prominently in the Insecticide and later unofficial patches.
- In version 1.31 (and also in Insecticide), attacking them with a weak unit will halt the monsters for 1 turn (they will not move during their own turn). This is the result of the way the developers decided to implement the game's turn order. Naturally, this can be combined with the above tactic, as combat spells may be cast to weaken the monsters in preparation of a next battle. In fact, unlike the guardians of an Encounter Zone, Rampaging Monsters will not heal up between battles, and are restricted to the normal rules governing natural healing, which can make direct damage spells particularly useful in this scenario.
- Bear in mind however, that the behaviour described above is likely not intended, and starting with the Unofficial Patch 1.50, computer-controlled units will no longer lose their Movement Allowance when attacked. However, weakening them with this strategy before they reach their target may still very well be a viable tactic, especially against slower-moving stacks.
- Rampaging Monsters always striclty target only Towns. In fact, when the game calculates the path they are going to take, it actually marks any tiles with hostile units on them as "impassable" for the rampaging group. This makes it possible to isolate regions of the map with patrolling units, to keep the monsters either inside a certain area, or out of another. This can be highly efficient if the surrounding terrain lends itself to natural bottlenecks, as illustrated by the picture on the right.
- There are a few things to note about this strategy. First, in all current game versions, the AI (including neutrals) can see through Invisibility on the overland map. This means that Invisible units are also considered by the pathfinding routine as impassable obstacles, and the game will only try to move Rampaging Monsters around them, if it can.
- In addition, in the latest official game version, neutral units will typically only calculate a path once: when they first start moving. Once their route is set, they will keep following it until doing so causes them to initiate a battle. For Rampaging Monsters, this means they plot a course on the turn after they spawn, which is of course the turn they start to move. Once on their way, units can be placed to block them; but if those units are already there, the creatures will ignore their tiles for the purposes of generating a path. As a consequence, a bottleneck will be most effective if it is already in place before the monsters spawn; unless it is more desirable to engage the Rampaging Monsters in combat; in which case the friendly unit(s) will have to be moved, as their initial location will never be pathed into.
- The Unofficial Patch 1.50 changes computer pathing such that it will be recalculated every turn. However, neutral units, including Rampaging Monsters, are now allowed to move into tiles containing units of other players, if those happen to block the shortest path to their destination. This makes bottlenecks more straightforward, although battles can no longer be avoided entirely by using this tactic.
"Untouchable" Units Edit
- It may be possible to strategically place an "undefeatable" unit in the path that the Rampaging Monsters are expected to take. If the creatures move on the tile of a Flying or Invisible unit that the monsters can't attack or even see, then they will give up the battle. As a result, they will disappear from the global map (which means they are defeated without bloodshed).
- As Sprites are the only Common Summons bearing either of these traits, this option is initially only available to Nature-wielding, or 11-Book Wizards. However, most other Realms have Uncommon Spells that can be researched, possibly even in the first 50 turns, that can enable the use of this tactic.
- Chaos has 3 different Flying creatures on the Uncommon tier, the cheapest to research of which are Gargoyles with a Research Cost of 500. Death has both a Flyer (Shadow Demons, 800), and an Invisible unit (Night Stalker, 560). Sorcery, while it does not have a Summon with either attribute, has an arguably even better option. The Flight Unit Enchantment ( 560) can not only be cast on any unit, it may also be cast in combat, removing the need of an additional Upkeep Cost entirely.
- Last, but not least, Unicorns can draw out nearly any battle to its 50 turn limit with their ability to Teleport around, without having to engage the enemy at all. However, in this case, when the battle is over, the Rampaging Monsters will not actually disappear, but instead will simply be pushed back to the square they attacked from. Nonetheless, this still allows casting combat spells in every engagement, and will also force the creatures to plot a new path to their destination, which may allow creating a bottleneck as described above.
Box In Nearby Sites Edit
- Rampaging Monsters have an internal limitation: they can only spawn on land tiles. Even if they could otherwise Fly or Swim, they still have to be created on a land tile. Furthermore, they can't appear on tiles occupied by a Town, another Encounter Zone, or even a unit of any kind! This means that if a site is surrounded by, for example, single units of Spearmen on every side, the monsters will have nowhere to spawn and, if the random generator does pick this zone, the process is aborted without generating any monsters, or even choosing another location. This may be useful earlier in the game to prevent stronger Encounter Zones (that are yet too powerful to clear) from spawning monsters, especially if they happen to be on a shoreline, or where the amount of adjacent land tiles is otherwise limited.
Let Them Go Through Edit
- Sometimes, the best option is to just move the garrison out of the way and let the Rampaging Monsters win undefended; there's a chance they'll just rampage through the Town. This is especially true in v1.31 and Insecticide, if the monsters' target is the capital City. The Fortress there will prevent them from setting up a Lair, and they always have to satisfy themselves with whatever they can loot or pillage. Wizards with the Alchemy feat may even convert all of their Gold into Mana on the preceding turn, and limit their loss to mostly just Fame.
Past the Early Game Edit
Encounter Zones usually present a greater challenge than neutral Towns, especially on higher Difficulty Settings. As a result, Rampaging Monsters typically pose a threat for a much longer period into the game than Raiders do. Nodes guarded by Very Rare Fantastic Beasts may very well still be unconquered by the time overland spells and extensive Road networks become an exploitable reality. These may be of further aid against the ever-stronger monster groups that the computer will generate.
Overland Spells Edit
- Unlike the guardians inside an Encounter Zone, Rampaging Monsters have left the hard-coded protection of their lair and are open to whatever overland mayhem a Wizard can throw at them. The following Instant Spells may be particularly useful for this purpose:
- The creatures are now also subject to the effects of global spells such as Death Wish, Great Unsummoning, or Meteor Storm. As noted above, Rampaging Monsters that sustain injuries will heal (or fail to heal) as units of their kind ordinarily do, rather than following the instant post-battle healing routine of lair guardians.
Enchanted Roads Edit
- Enchanted Roads can be both a benefit and a liability: while they allow a player to instantly get a strong garrison in place to stop Rampaging Monsters, they also serve as an equally efficient conveyor for the Rampaging Monsters themselves. The closer any inhabited Encounter Zones are to the Roads, the more frequently they should be monitored for any spawns. There is only a single turn to spot the enemy stacks before they begin moving toward their target city, and they will make use of Roads to get there, if they can.
- Leaving units on the Roads in strategic places will force the Rampaging Monsters to take a detour around them, likely delaying their attack by an extra turn or two. Again, a weak unit, such as Spearmen, is sufficient, since their mere presence will cause the creatures to take a different route instead of the Road. It may be worth noting that starting with the Unofficial Patch 1.50, the Rampaging Monsters usually attack the blocking unit(s) instead of going around them; although this will similarly delay their approach, since they will not be able to move any more on that turn afterwards.
Known Bugs Edit
If Rampaging Monsters reduce an Outpost to ruins, the Outpost gets destroyed twice, resulting in the destruction of the newest existing city in the game along with it. This bug is fixed in the Unofficial Patch 1.50.