|Hawaiian Were-Shark Attacks!|
Normal Lurkers can be deployed against an enemy that enters bad going. As the rules currently stand, every battlefield has to have a couple of pieces of bad going (and even my alternative system for random terrain makes it probable that there will be some bad going in play), so there's a chance that the Lurkers can see some action.
Water Lurkers have a bit of a problem, in that they can only deploy in water. If there are no aquatic features on the board, they will never appear.
The problem is, that if they do appear then they are better than normal Lurkers. Much better. And, if their player is defending, by making every piece of bad going a water feature such as a marsh or swamp, you can prepare plenty of territory for them to operate in.
Better than normal Lurkers? Well, yes. Elements that don't normally take a -2 for fighting in bad going (Beasts, Warband, Shooters and other Lurkers), and who therefore fight normally against conventional Lurkers, still take a -2 if fighting Water Lurkers.
So, whilst potentially useless if you are the attacker, they are worth more than 1AP if you are the defender. They also create the odd situation where if an army has but one Water Lurker in it, its home terrain seems to be a network of marshes, swamps, rivers and similar terrain. There's no reason for it not to be.
So here's a proposal.
Scrap Water Lurkers totally.
Treat them just like any other Lurker. And vice versa. That is, they can appear in any bad going, not just water, and that ordinary Lurkers can be deployed in rivers. Allow them the 200p move in water that Water Lurkers currently get.
Lurkers are deployed exactly as currently described in the rules, with the addition that they can be deployed against an element which has just entered a river or lake.
Consider this; there are already Lurkers who, conceptually, are tied to a particular terrain type - woodland Dryads, for example - but who can appear in any area of bad going. The game quite happily allows woodland Dryads to pop out of an area of soft-sand in their opponent's desert home, for example. So adding water to the possible terrain in which things can appear isn't too much of a stretch. Ordinary Lurkers can already appear in marshes and swamps anyway, so in most games it's only rivers we're adding as possible ambush locations. And rivers often have tree-lined banks, rocks or other concealment; a Dryad capable of operating in an area of soft sand isn't going to find a river much of a challenge.
Conversely, it can be assumed that most areas of bad going will have some water associated with them even if it isn't depicted. That soft sand may have a hidden oasis, for example, or a steep hill a network of small streams and pools; insignificant in game terms, but each capable of housing a Lurker with an aquatic theme. The Watcher In The Water lurked in a mountainside lake; a steep hill, maybe.
In terms of combat factors, the automatic -2 for being in contact with a Water Lurker should be removed. However the following change should be included:
"An element crossing a river, and which has a Lurker, which is also in the river, in combat contact with any of its edges, counts as being in bad going."
So if you're an element type unaffected by bad going, such as Warband or Shooters, then this has no effect on your combat factors. Effectively being in contact with a Lurker in a river makes the river count as normal bad going for combat purposes.
It has been argued that this change removes a certain amount of flavour from the game, but really it just removes a fiddly and slightly fudged troop type, capable of being over-exploited by canny players, whilst still allowing the lovely elements people have created to be used. And, because the former Water Lurkers can now appear on any battlefield with any bad going, they will get used more often.