Is The Berserk Staff Bad Game Design?

For those of you who don’t know what a Berserk Staff is:
Berserk Staff (FEWiki)

I’m making this 'cause I was playing through FE8 again and had to restart chapter 15 because Forde got berserked and went on a rampage causing his inevitable demise.

Before I shouted at the TV, I pondered in my mind for a few moments:
“Is the Berserk Staff bad game design?”

What do you think?


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Berserk staff has the potential to be a cool tool in the player’s hands. But on enemies, there’s a good argument to be made that Sleep is better design in most cases. Berserk almost always functions as a Restore staff check: either you Restore it, or someone gets killed. There are some ways to manipulate a Berserked unit’s behavior, but it requires knowing the game’s AI better than the player should really be expected to. Sleep is at least something you can meaningfully play through, while still being something you really want to avoid being hit by or have a Restore staff available.

It certainly doesn’t help when the effect lasts 5 whole turns. Waiting out 5 turns is often half the duration of the map. Reducing this duration can make it more manageable. The player might have a chance of keeping a Berserked unit safe and contained for a single turn, but 5 turns during which you probably can’t put a Restore user in range safely is way too much. Losing even a single turn of control to Berserk or a single turn of action to Sleep can still be very detrimental in a game that sufficiently requires you to make use of your action economy, without being completely “have Restore in range or get f*cked”.


You have enough tools by Ch15 to deal with it. Restore and Silence should be more than enough. You can also waste away the uses by letting them target a weak unit.

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It’s really funny as a staff and it can be played around as long as you don’t have one unit with absurdly high movement.

As long as restore staves are in the game and easily accessible I think it’s fine if used sparingly

And also really funny
Comedy is a good reason to include something, this clip demonstrates the hilarity of situations that a berserk staff can allow, you can’t just reject that because it makes your feelings hurt during the fact


The Berserk staff is there to tie up units that can use the restore staff for a turn.
For example, as soon as someone is Berserk, they must be healed.
This can consume one turn of action of a unit that can use the Restore staff.

Also, if there are two separate routes and the enemy has a Berserk, you need to send units that can use the staff of restore to both routes.
This type of characteristic should be used in the game design.

I suggest making restore staff available in WLV E and selling it in the advance preparation store.
This way it will be less likely to be considered unreasonable.


Just make it like modern FE where most status effects last 1 turn, yet can still fuck you over anyway.

Common modern FE gameplay W


it 100% is. Any FE chapter where Berserk is placed in the enemy’s hands is automatically worse.

I always dummy out Berserk in my projects because I think it’s overly punishing and just a very, very stupid concept


Well the staff was made to slow you down but when your units are strong it causes a problem i normally make Evan a summonar and make his phantom tank it and AI has a tendency to attack phantom first so even if my unit has 0 res it will always go for phantom and i can just charge with out worry.


I would say the Berserk staff isn’t bad just “interesting”. It tosses in some new chaotic factor into most chapters and could serve as a interesting threat to work your units around, yet in execution it makes chapters very tedious and difficult.

Berserk staffs can go after those Strong low res units that end up critting and killing most of your army from the inside which is really annoying.

However, this goes for the enemy’s army too, berserking thier units to kill thier own guys which is always fun, seeing how this doesn’t risk the player losing thier units in battle.

I’d say that the berserk staff is better in the players gand since it gives them more opportunities in battle and generally just more fun.


Ya there are very few maps with beserk staff enemy besides fe6 so i wont say its really bad but most fe gives you 1 and who here has not abused it or even restored it just to abuse it more.

If given to players its really strong with how broken units get later in the game and most times enemy dont even have high res so almost 100% hit so its understandable to just give us one

beserk do be broken and i admit its a mood killer when beserked espicially if its your assassin it has happen to me many time i was so unlucky that the leathality proc 4 times in just 1 beserk time(in 5 turns) lost 4 units

its also there so player dont just speedrun the game some map would be way too easy if not for them (eg fe7 water temple this was where i lost 4 units by leathility from jaffar btw)


If something punishes you for regular gameplay (like leveling up), to me it’s antithetical to fe as a whole.
Berserk does exactly that, doesn’t matter how many turns it lasts.


I don’t think effects that cause the player to lose control of a character are fun in any RPG, and it feels ridiculous that it’s that easy to wave a hand and get someone to turn on his allies. Older RPGs in general have a tendancy to spam status conditions late game as the devs seemingly ran out of ways to check the player’s power level. Confuse and charm type effects are probably the biggest cause of random party wipes in RPGs and it’s just frustrating to lose prgress to bad RNG.

I don’t think I’ve ever been in a situation where casting Berserk seemed particularly useful, but I would say FE rarely has situations where debilitating enemies is more useful than just killing them (unless we’re talking about FE3’s busted Silence Staff). The only times I can think of when I status really felt like it saved me was stopping enemies from getting to Zephiel with the Sleep Staff in Battle Before Dawn and Dierdre shutting down the dark mage boss in her join chapter (but that’s borderline scripted).


I find Berserk to be like any other status staff, a tool both for player and enemy, and like any tool it has it’s place however Berserk tends to get a bad rap for how it is used due to it being the most complex status,

All the other status ailments are very easy to understand
Sleep = You can’t move or talk because you are asleep
Silence = You can’t talk or use magic [basically weaker sleep]
Poison[GBA] = You take damage at the beginning of your phase
Poison[Engage] = Reduces Def/Res in damage calc
Petrify/Stone = You Can not move, talk, dodge, and are susceptible to higher crit [Basically Stronger Sleep]
Paralysis/Shock/Frozen = Move set to zero [Basically very weak Sleep]
Dancer Rings = + 10 flat buff to stated area in combat calculation
All battalion Gambits = Simple stat buff or simple concept e.g. counter at any range, always survive attack
Rattled = Stats lowered, Can’t move [Basically slightly stronger Paralysis/Shock/Frozen]
Break = Can not attack back in next combat during the current phase

Then you have Berserk
Berserk = Unit will attack weakest unit in range, then prioritizing closer units at end of phase regardless of allegiance.

What makes Berserk more complex for a player to predict is

  1. It requires some knowledge of the AI and how it acts when choosing a target

  2. The in game description is bad and leaves out details [it says the unit only target’s closest unit regardless of allegiance, mentioning no other factors]

  3. The effect of Berserk is very different from the other statuses where as the others affect your numbers, and only affects one unit, Berserk rips control of your unit from you and hands it to the computer and can affect multiple if you are not careful/unprepared

Another issue is that when used especially poorly Berserk can feel more unfair, because the player is more likely to see it as the cause of a unit death and not their poor play [it often is check enemy inventory, range and buy spare restore staves], because it is both unpredictable and strong to most players than other statuses.
However a status like Stone is as strong and even introduces unpredictability yet is not as complained about likely because it is more intuitive and usually only impacts one unit.

So how would one use Berserk, well first make restore staff very available!
But after that,

  1. As a strong deterrent
    Either to guard treasure or to make a split path scarier, Berserk excels in this roll as it provides a clear risk but can be overcome if the player is skilled without needing strong stat-ball super soldiers

  2. As a reward for a challenge
    Berserk is oft fun when the player has it sending enemies against each other is always fun, as are all war crimes.

  3. Use sparingly
    Do not spam or use on reinforcements without strong consideration
    It may be applicable to use as part of a well thought out and measured gimmick map, [e.g. a short all unit escape map with all priest that have different status staves that are spaced well making the challenge utilizing movement and rescue or other mechanics.], but really think it through and test it out

  4. Don’t use as alongside other status like stone, Sleep or Freeze
    This should be fairly obvious but if you have a unit that can’t move Berserk becomes so much harder to avoid, remember not everyone can rescue drop their whole army across the map in 3 turns.

  5. No. 4 again but for Silence
    Preventing use of Restore can have much the same effect especially if your game doesn’t have many staffers, this is less an issue the more staffers you have even to the point of being necessary to do if you have everyone using staffs, this also applies to lord if you have 3 lords and all use staves I’d say Silence and Berserk are fair game, just don’t over do it.

  6. Not too much
    stick to 1 or 2 enemies holding the staff [you can have one unit hold multiple copies] depending on how big your map is and how separated it is.

  7. Consider enemy placement
    If you have lots of strong enemies that move fast to attack losing control of a unit could be very unfair, consider using low move, non moving enemies, or weak enemies depending on the difficulty and game feel you want to achieve.

7a. If you want an unfair feeling battle perhaps ignore this advice [and the other points] altogether and have strong fast moving enemies with overlapping stone and sleep and use 12 enemies with the staff and go all out, don’t expect many to enjoy it though.

  1. And finally consider why
    Does Berserk achieve what you want? Could you do this better with another status staff? Another system or patch? If so that may be the better choice.

Overall Berserk isn’t inherently bad design just very different and hard to get right.


Berserk would be much more manageable if the unit couldn’t move through your other units. This would allow a tanky unit to wall off the berserked unit from the rest of your party. The berserked unit having pass combined with it lasting 5 turns makes it very difficult to actually survive unscathed without a restore staff, especially if the threat is combined with other enemies.

That being said, the best way to mitigate damages when giving enemies berserk staves is to:

  1. Give it to a boss that doesn’t move. This makes the range much easier to work around on a turn by turn basis.

  2. Put it on a map with a lot of terrain that the player can use to their advantage to prevent the berserked unit from targeting their units. Lots of walls and forests mean the player is better able to control the berserked units movement range as well as providing a defensive bonus should they get attacked.


  1. Replace the berserk staff with a sleep staff. 9 times out of 10, this is the correct answer. I think in vanilla fe, they like to use the berserk as the player can just wait out sleep in a map like ch14 of fe8 for example. However, you should rely on other methods to make players act that don’t involve berserk.

The most interesting way I could see to use berserk is to put it as a reinforcement behind the player in an escape map for example. This would add to the feeling of the map of needing to escape quickly and greatly raise the stakes in a scenario where stopping to use a restore staff could be detrimental in a situation where you’re already lagging behind.


Status staves are bad game design in general tbh.

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Looking at it now, I always thought the Berserk staff was more annoying than bad game design, but the more I think about it, the more I lean towards Berserk being bad game design.

When looking at status ailments, there’s three that players will typically encounter: Sleep, Silence and Poison. They all have their advantages and disadvantages, but one thing in common is that they all allow room for error. The Restore staff is the answer to these ailments, but there are solutions around them if the player doesn’t have access to a restore staff.

  • Sleep makes your unit unable to take action. You can still rescue these units and move them around until sleep wears off.
  • Silence blocks the use of magic. You can still rely on your physical units to take down enemies, and silenced users can still move around and trade.
  • Poison has the user take damage during the start of Player Phase. You can easily just restore a units health by heal staffs, vulneraries, or use Antitoxins to cure posion.

Then there’s Berserk. If a unit gets beserked, there’s basically no room for error. Either you restore them or face the consequences. A berseked unit is still considered a player unit, so they can move through your units, aka you can act like they have Pass. You can’t rescue them, you can’t trade from them, there’s no sort of feature like talking with a supported character to have them fight the berseked status or something. That unit will go blood hungry and try to find anyone to kill, and it could be anyone. Your dancer? They will just go through your units and kill that dancer. The frail healer? Bye to that individual! How about that giant squad of enemies? Well that berseked unit doesn’t care, if they can’t kill your units, they will try to kill them, and probably die trying! Berserk wouldn’t be so terrible if there were options around it other than the restore staff, but there isn’t. FE6 is the best use of the Berserk staff because you can manipulate around it, and that doesn’t scream good design, at least to me.

Also never have your dancer get berseked. If they do, they will refresh one of your units, and that refreshed, non-bersked, player unit will procced to act as if they were beserked and will attack your units.


This one is new to me i didnt know that but good to know.
Now a Question arises what will it do if no one is in range of dance

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FWIW you can Warp a berserked unit away from you.

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But do you really want to use one for this tho i mean lets be real who is willing to spend one of their skip staff just for this.

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