So I'm reading the latest thread on how cannons need to be nerfed, and something occurred to me. The biggest complaint isn't cannons, but rather cannons hitting mount and rider. While this rule is no doubts dumb, it got me thinking about not so much the problems with cannons, but rather the problem with riders mounted on monsters.
A big issue with the rules is that being mounted on a monster, is bad. Compared to being mounted on monstrous cavalry, or even a barded steed, the advantages of being mounted on a true monster pale in comparison. I'm not talking about the advantages of having a monster, but the direct advantages to the rider compared to being on foot or being on a smaller mount.
1. Since being mounted on a huge monster is almost always limited to lords, you can assume that the rider is the general and getting an 18" leadership bubble.
2. Big monsters almost always cause terror, so the rider has an immunity to fear/terror.
1. The monster's attacks can be completely negated by a unit champion in a challenge.
2. If the rider is killed the monster might be harder to control or unable to move (but might also become slightly more deadly if you get lucky).
3. The monster can be killed, and if the mount is killed the rider is stuck on foot for the rest of the game.
4. Template weapons hit both the rider, putting a huge target on the model.
5. Protection items that are paid for on the rider have no effect on the monster, even though they would work on smaller mounts.
6. Larger monsters generally cannot be part of a unit, requiring multiple charges to do things like break steadfast. (this is not always true, EX. plague furnace).
7. Inability to get a "look out sir" roll.
The issue is that unridden monsters are better in almost every way than mounted monsters. If I had the choice, I would always take an unridden, say, griffon, to one that I had to put a lord on. The problem is that you often don't have a choice. You need to take a dragon mounted by a dreadlord or no dragon at all. Sadly, this means that more often than not the logical choice is to just not take the dragon, especially when a Hydra can be used without all the penalties for having to be mounted can be taken.
If you could mount normally unridden monsters with characters, would you? If you could put a chaos Lord on a giant, or a Beastlord on a Ghorgon, would you? It be be cool because it was fluffy, but would it be optimal? On that same note, if you could take a manticore or a carnisaur without a rider, would you take one more often than you do now? I don't really think being able to take all monsters without riders is the solution to this, because I don't think he game needs every army to have 2-3 dragons roaming around the skies. However, I do think that the incentive to take a ridden monster should be more than simply being able to take the ridden monster in your list as opposed to not being able to use one. There are a fair number of examples in armies of monsters that can be taken with or without a character rider, such as necrosphinx and stegadons, and they don't seem to break the game.
There might have once been a balance argument about the rider being a purposeful Achilles heel for monsters, but that's not really true anymore. It is possible to get virtually all the new big monsters, arachnarok spiders, stonehorn/thunder tusks, necrosphinx, and Terrorgheists, have the ability to be taken with or without a rider. However, when a rider is an option, even when they offer synergy to the mount such in the case of engine of the gods or a web shrine, they are a suboptimal choice because of all the inherent weaknesses of riders on monstrous mounts.
So what I'd like to propose for this discussion, is what change in the rules would it take to make riding a monster beneficial enough to make you want to do it? Hopefully any proposed changes would be reasonable/make sense fluff wise too.