Apr 20, 2014

BCG April Update

Ah, Easter. In my corner of the world, it is known for being the year's one four-day weekend, making it perfect for meeting friends and family, taking a mini vacation trip somewhere close, and writing roleplaying games.

That is how people usually spend their holidays, right? Shutting themselves in and writing stuff, no? Anyway.

Today I have for you a middle of the road update. The text has less typos, is better organized, and in general things are clearer. There's still a lot of layout work to do (the current page backgrounds and sheets are placeholders) so I will probably do another of these updates with 'quality of life' improvements in 1-2 more months. Hopefully after that the game will be finished.

A few weeks ago I brought up what you were going to see today, and the grand majority of it remains the same. A few things did change between then and now though, so let's go over them quick.

Two Promotions and two Demotions

The grand majority of changes are buffs, and they are either pretty inoffensive buffs or obviously necessary. Those are 'Stable' changes, while the more adventurous and dramatic changes are called 'experimental' and have their own separate pdf.

Two supposedly Stable changes stood out in discussion as being perhaps more strong than intended: Interference Bomb and Electro-Sapper Pods. To ensure that their power level is fine they'll go in the experimental manual for now. In the meantime, Interference Bomb will halve the Might of all Units in an Area, while the Pods remain as-is because a bonus 1-3 points of Damage isn't a bad deal anyway.

Two Experimental changes got promoted to Stable: Powered Rifle and Your Fate is Sealed. They aren't really significant enough to warrant months of testing, though they are quite powerful if you make the most out of them. Your Fate is Sealed which denies Tension and healing entirely but only for one Round. Powered Rifle which takes a bit from its Boosted counterpart and has improved Range when you Aim (A Range of 20 is not too difficult to get), but can only be used against targets at least at Range 5.

Because sometimes you just need to shoot beyond the horizon.

Changes I Forgot to Mention

Tweak things back and forth while testing them out long enough and you will forget to note down some of them. While checking out feedback and comparing it to my notes I realized that I forgot to bring up a few more changes. Here they are:

-Experimental Reactor got a slight nerf to cost 2 Energy instead of 1.
-Got you Where I Wanted lets you move the target a number of Zones equal to the entirety of the Damage.
-Take One for the Team lets you redirect all of the Damage towards the user.
-Bloodlust was missing its Level 2 buff, now it grants 5 Might.

Two are welcome buffs, one is a moderate nerf to basically the game's best damage increasing ability, and the last was kind of obligatory. There really is not much else to say.

An Absolute Barrier works pretty well with Take One for the Team.

Expanded Experimental Material

Three weeks was more than enough for me to notice some of the more obvious problems with the first draft of the Experimental Content I posted. It was also enough to come up with some more things to try out. The most dangerous change (yet also the most exciting) was by far the buff to Commander Type, I did say that it was potentially extraordinarily powerful... And that's basically what it was.

At the end of the day the only way to effectively counter a Commander Type User was to cut off their energy supply...  Through another instance of Commander Type. In consequence I retouched and weakened it a little. It is still very powerful though, so be careful if you want to allow it in a game.

That's the bad news. The good news is that there are two new buffs: Don't Give Up now restores an amount of Threshold equal to the user's Systems and Overcharge costs 5, so that you can combo it with the Experimental Commander Type.

Closer and closer to a viable Mecha concept.

And last but definitely not least...

Attribute Advancement Changes

All PCs under the Experimental rules start with 100 Character Points and 100 Mecha Points to spend however they wish at Power Level 0. Each Power Level also grants them 20 Character Points and 20 Mecha Points, plus a Genre Point and a Genre Power. Attributes start at 0, and you Enhance them in instances of +2 each, as shown in the table below.

I pinky swear that any resemblance to mechanics from GGG is coincidental.

Let's quickly go over what this accomplishes:

Elimination of leftover points: The way the math worked previously it made getting 4's and 5's the one surefire way to avoid having a leftover of points. I was aware from the beginning that low PL characters would look a bit same-y Attribute-wise, but even after that the increases tend to come in '15s' (4 to 6 or 7 to 8) because otherwise you'd have 1-4 spare points you can do nothing with. With everything coming in multiples of 5 that would no longer be a problem.

Starting characters have more XP and can spend it on whatever they wish: This allows for a little bit more variety in what starting Characters and Mecha can do. The total XP at Level 1 is basically the same amount, but being able to do whatever you want with it does help. It is also less confusing because you don't have to manage a predetermined amount for Attributes, a predetermined amount for abilities, and then the amount you can do anything with. This one is all upside as far as I'm concerned.

High Power Level characters have less XP: This one is half upside and half downside. On one hand it cuts down on some of the more powerful strategies that PCs of PL 4 and 5 could get away with... On the other hand, that's not always a bad thing. Having less XP at the high end makes things easier to balance and also weakens Grunts and Bosses, not just PCs and Rival NPCs.

Your Attributes can only be in even numbers: Again this one has its pros and cons. The con is that there is less freedom in how you can distribute your Attributes and you can't really make a Character with slightly under or above average Charm, it has to be strictly average, bad, or great. The game already grades your Attributes by twos, though, so it is not really a big change in that regard. Also, by having all Attributes be always even, we could reinstate the old rule of always rounding halved values up. I'm not entirely sure this is the right call yet, but the main reason BCG roundes values down is that there is a lot of Attribute halving going around and the balance of the game is better when Attributes are rounded down, not up.

Attributes are slightly cheaper to increase and more convenient to manage: Even if there is less XP to go around, Attributes are actually cheaper to increase now so endgame PCs can end up with builds that are pretty similar to the ones in the current version of BCG. It might sound like a loss of 40 points, but it is really more like a loss of 20-30, and it is spread through five Power Levels. It does not hurt that much, but it does mitigate the commonality of some late game obscene combos.

There's a few more side effects, and honestly I should go more in depth into the numbers there, but I think it should get a post of its own if I am going to do it justice.

That it feels similar to this is a nice bonus.

One More Thing

Terrain. Yes, that thing is Terrain. There has been some (quite a bit of) confusion over how Terrain and Terrain-like effects work. The troubleshooting section does clarify this, but it keeps coming up so perhaps I ought to rewrite how they work so that they're more intuitive. Currently abilities like Flyer and Anti-Gravity let you ignore Terrain, but not Terrain effects like those of Incinerator or Ensnaring Trap. Terrain effects also do not stack, so you can't be set on fire twice but you also can't be set on fire while having mines detonated under you. Well, you can, but the second effect will not do anything.

The general idea was that I could let the effects be stronger if they couldn't stack, for example Ensnaring Trap halves two Attributes when I originally was going to make it only halve Speed. I do like the way Terrain itself works, but the abilities that cause Terrain effects might be in need of a touchup. Hence the poll you see to the right.

I could rewrite abilities like Incinerator or Ensnaring Trap so that they create Zones of Extreme or Difficult Terrain, thus they would function in the way that seems to make the most sense, without having to change any other rules. But I could also change Terrain slightly and make the negative conditions stack if you apply multiples of them on the same Zone or target.

I hope to get the production gears spinning a little bit faster in what is left of this month and the next. I have a schedule more or less planned out, so there'll be lots of things to discuss in the near future. The schedule itself should be the subject of a post coming soon, as well.

But that's for another day. Today Easter awaits. Have a Happy Easter if you celebrate and a Pleasant Sunday if you don't.

33 comments:

  1. There was an error with The Beast and some text went out of the margins. I just fixed it. If you downloaded 1.2 before this post, please download it again.

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  2. Really really REALLY not a fan of the attribute changes. They reduce the level of spreadsheetiness of attributes only very slightly and eliminate the opportunity costs and tradeoffs that came from odd numbers, like getting just enough EN to use Commander Type with no overkill, or taking Systems to just the right level to keep your Long-Range weapons and support upgrades at the same range. It's ugly, it's boring, it needs to go away. Axe it.

    Beyond that, nothing to comment on yet cause I'm DLing the PDF and gotta jet, but that change is just change for change's sake and I don't like it. It diminishes the game, not enhances it.

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    1. It is not change for change's sake because simplifies the game a lot. It is a big improvement for people less inclined to optimize every value.

      If it were to go through I'd most likely make anything with a cost of 5 energy now cost 4 or 6.

      Delete
  3. OK, got back, downloaded stuff. Beta Impressions:

    A) No clarification that The Beast removes the innate disads of CQC and Fire to make them usable from the get-go. -10 points for Gryffindor for this.

    B) The mentioned changes are good in general, and I think this is a far more usable game than BCG 1.0, but still inferior to the Experimental Set (minus the dumb changes to CharGen). Nothing to say here, moving right along...

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    1. Oh right. It does not undo the innate disads. I will take my penalty for not bringing that up.

      Delete
  4. Experimental Booklet:

    A) No, seriously, the new GGG-like system has to go. I'm an optimizer. I HATE getting slapped with forced inefficiency and 'leftovers' that I can't fix without spending craploads of MP. Having 1 MP remaining is fine because it gives me something to think about Mid-Scene Upgrading when I need to make use of it. Having 20 MP that I have to slot into a build like a square peg trying to enter a round hole is godawful. The objective is to diversify characters...but what it's going to do is make them MORE similar, not LESS. I'm going to make my point by posting the two Gear sheets of the heavy attackers in the new game I'm playing in, which used the experimental rules stub of the Glimpse of the Future post for chargen. You be the judge of how similar they are going to be after the change, and of the gross disservice the new system does to one of them:

    http://forums.somethingawful.com/showthread.php?threadid=3623276&userid=0&perpage=40&pagenumber=1#post428011942 (Ranged Commander Type Constant Targeting Sniper)

    http://forums.somethingawful.com/showthread.php?threadid=3623276&userid=0&perpage=40&pagenumber=1#post428012538 (Melee Extending Blade glass cannon Technique user)

    Their statlines end up practically identical: Might 8, Guard 4, Thresh 4, En 6, then Speed and Systems at 2/4 in some combination. Thanks to the dumb dumb dumb statline changes massively inflating stat costs though, one of them ends up hosed and loses TWO pieces of equipment and their entire method of surviving as a glass cannon (Integrated Weapons), while the other one gains 5 bonus MP because ????????????????????????????????. It's idiotic. One unit should not be punished to the point of becoming completely worthless (because if a decent enemy attacker shoots at it once it's going to score at least one maim for free automatically and take its only weapon out like 75% of the time, or ALL of the time if it has an Assault Rifle) by the stat tweaks, particularly when the two units Are so similar to each other in so many ways (both snipe from Range 10, both have two advantages under their ideal conditions, both are energy guzzlers, both are glassy but with ways to compensate for it, and both are very fun to play, as showcased by the combat in the following page). The changes that lead to two extremely similar builds to have such a huge power disparity NEED to be axed. That is just not the way a good system is designed.

    B) Boo Commander Type costing 20 MP. That's a pain in the ass and makes the offensive builds that use it super inefficient (and the support builds feel awful). My current character (above) will not feel it because Fire At Will is now sort of useless for him, but it's a dumb change because it makes all the neat builds Commander Type enables (Jackhammer Stakes becoming reliable so you can finally play a Kyosuke Nanbu clone, Constant Targeting) pretty much 100% stat-inefficient without a Might of 8 (as can be seen by how it results in necessitating a total build restructuring due to pushing Integrated Weapons out of the build budget, above). Things with an MP cost and an Energy cost should not be so inefficient that you just want to bump the main stat they are buffing even when bumping said stat is a ripoff. It's why Weapon Master sucks, and Commander Type should not be as bad as Weapon Master.

    (Cont.)

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    1. A) Sorry about that. It is a pretty big one change, on the plus side it is only part of this experimental pdf thing. I need to make a few corrections though:

      -It does not inflate stat costs. Getting odd numbers costs 'more' in the sense that you are getting the even numbers too. Going by the totals, the costs are lower (by 5 points).
      -If you are worried by leftover points then consider that you would see far less leftover points due to Attributes from this. You would no longer have spare MP in the range of 1-4 or 6-9 after every Attribute increase.
      -More starting XP, more freedom in how you can distribute it, and lower end of the line costs means more diversity.

      B) When you consider that CT is like a Weapon Master that can also trigger utility Upgrades and can be used to buff allies and not just yourself, it is very much worth a cost of 20. In light of reduced XP totals (if that were to happen) they could go a bit lower in price, but not all the way to 10, as that would make them worth their cost in stats alone plus give you more utility on top.

      Delete
  5. C) Overcharger's title is 'Overcharge'. Whoops.

    D) Not sold on the Electrosapper Pods having Slow. They're like the Boosted Lance except they use a less powerful stat for the weapon type and are less rewarding to use (because it has no Long-Range, thus the secondary stat you are pumping does not actually boost your ability to fight beyond the weapon's own benefit). If it's going to be Slow, make it have a Contested Test and do something weird and fun if you win instead. Effects that only happen once every two turns should be impressive, not meh.

    E) Ooooooooooooooh! Beam Ripper is cool now! Brilliant new effect there. I like it, I like it!

    F) Reactor Overdrive and Radiant Fist cost 5 EN? FUCK YES. *Furious fistpumps*

    I think I've made my point. Pretty much all the changes introduced in the experimental booklet are a yes...EXCEPT the new stats system and the Commander Type pricing change. Both of those just cause entirely too much damage to the game and really need to not make the cut.

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    1. I considered a Contested Test. It lasted all of a single use because on average it was exactly the same as the Stable Pods, but slower to play with.

      Delete
  6. Correction: The second character in that example gains 10 MP, not 5, while the first one loses only 5 MP instead of 10...and still is hosed by losing two pieces of equipment, rendering his build nonfunctional. 'Best system'. Sorry to say it GimmickMan, but if you wanted more build diversity, this is not the way to get it. All you did was fuck up stat spreads and nerf Commander Type and its tricks so far into the ground that a user of it that was pretty much 100% equivalent to a non-user has to pay more than an entire extra power level to reach parity with another guy. It's bad. It's really, really, really bad. I cannot emphasize enough: Throw this new attribute system into the trash and rever the Commander Type changes. The math does not hold up under even casual scrutiny, at least in the case of attack-heavy Gears, because they all need to hit benchmarks that can only be reached in specific ways (you want two advantages from round 1 onwards so you can hit the Magic Number of +5 with the aid of tension, turning your hit roll into a damage roll, and you want to push Might as high as you can take it, to a minimum of 8 and possibly 10 before diversifying - fail to do either of these things and you are a heavily suboptimal attacker), some of which you nerfed. Fix this, and if you want diversification, find ways to hit The Magic Number and acquire an equivalent damage to a high Might user without going all in. Otherwise you'll just straitjacket offensive specialists down one or two build paths.

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  7. When I first saw the attribute table I thought it was pointless and bad. But then it dawned on me. It's supposed to fix the leftover points you have when buying attributes. Why didn't you mention it in the post when you mentioned some other meaningless stuff?

    Buying attributes in increments of 2 is a bit annoying and there are situations where it hurts but it makes building mechs much easier so it's a good tradeoff.
    When I was trying out builds for fun those leftover points were annoying as hell.

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    1. I tried to focus on what it meant for a final build instead of the ongoing build ones for... what is basically an ongoing building improvement.

      Not the best approach, in hindsight.

      Delete
    2. I ended up adding it to the post. Sometimes I completely miss the forest for the trees. Thanks for pointing it out.

      Delete
  8. Terrain effect should stack. If you're on fire why does it make you immune to broadside barrage from a battleship? It makes no sense and breaks immersion.

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    1. The usual stacking rule should apply where things stack as long as they come from different sources. So you can't set somebody on fire twice with two incinerators but you can artillery the guy on fire.

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    2. That is a pretty simple way to go about it that makes enough sense. You do run into a bit of trouble if, say, two people are using Incinerators and one of them is fluffed as shooting acid but overall it is fairly effective.

      Delete
    3. I want to reply specifically to Anonymous #1 in this subcomment section but can't. This upsets me.

      In retrospect, Fire at Will would have been better as Surprise Minefield. That way at least the default interpretation would go better with how people think it works. Flight should not make you immune to broadside barrage either!

      Delete
  9. I really, *really* want to hear why Commander Type should not be Cost 10 in practical 'here, have a build that proves this is broken' terms, because...oh, c'mon, just LOOK at the two builds I posted! I called the melee build's player over IRC and we ran the numbers independently. We both arrived to the same array as the one that best fit the characters AND qualified as 'most optimal', with the only change being that he had Systems 2 and I had Speed 2 (guess which one was more crippling a downgrade from 3 to 2, BTW). Both builds hit the same numbers (the *exact*) same numbers, but one of them, for some inane reason, is 25 points behind the other even if you cut out a piece of equipment worth 10 MP. I'm going to throw out the question right now and dare anybody to answer: Is there *any* build that hits equivalent, reliable, round-after-round offensive numbers as the melee build using Ranged that isn't 'take a Double Blaster, cut your range to a third of what it was with the Assault Rifle, slowly kill yourself through Overheating, and oh yeah you also pay more energy because fuck you'? I don't see it. About the only other thing I can think of is a Constant Targeting Sniper Rifle build, but that one is also unbuyable in any effective fashion at PL 1 because of the Maim Problem. This change tried to diversify builds, but all it did was straitjacket offense-heavy ranged builds into ONE build that can be bought at PL 1 and doesn't cause you to lose bonuses to attacking! It's a colossal failure! I haven't been this disappointed in BCG ever. This was a change no one asked for, no one wanted, and that randomly slapped a titanic nerf on ranged weapons by making it absolutely goddamn impossible to reliably hurt anyone who carries a Custom Defense. Not only that, it also led to two Gears with similar, yet clearly distinct stat setups in BCG 1.1 to a straight up identical stat spread (sans a whopping two, *two* point difference between tertiary stats). Where's the diversity here? What's the OMG SUPER BIG STRATEGY SHIFT I'm not seeing? Where is the benefit from these tweaks? Seriously, someone speak up. I'm not seeing it. Not at all.

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  10. OK, rant over. That big wall of text? That comes from feeling extremely ripped off because of that random-ass pair of nerfs completely slaying what were looking like interesting builds that are now not playable out of chargen. Taking a deep breath and moving right along, let's quote something over to discuss it more cleanly...

    "A) Sorry about that. It is a pretty big one change, on the plus side it is only part of this experimental pdf thing. I need to make a few corrections though:

    -It does not inflate stat costs. Getting odd numbers costs 'more' in the sense that you are getting the even numbers too. Going by the totals, the costs are lower (by 5 points).
    -If you are worried by leftover points then consider that you would see far less leftover points due to Attributes from this. You would no longer have spare MP in the range of 1-4 or 6-9 after every Attribute increase.
    -More starting XP, more freedom in how you can distribute it, and lower end of the line costs means more diversity."

    A) Stat costs are inflated in practice, because no offensive action requires more than 5 EN and less than 8 or 10. Thus, whenever you build an offense-heavy character, you HAVE to buy an overkill point of energy, which does sweet fuck all for you. Compared to the BCG 1.0/1.1 system, you're paying an 5 points to get the energy you need (5), for a point of energy you will not use unless you want an Active Defense (and you won't, necessarily. You're offense heavy!). The lowered cost of acquiring Might 8 does not compensate for it, because Might 7 was actually an extremely important earlygame breakpoint and you no longer have access to it. Run the numbers. Previously, acquiring your needed values (Might 7 + EN 5) cost 28+15, or 43 points. Now, getting the next best thing (Might 6 is not acceptable, neither is EN 4 in most cases), AKA Might 8 EN 6, costs 30 + 20. In other words, while the final, total costs went *down*, the actual, earlygame costs went *up*. The math that went into the new attribute system was sloppy and did not account for what actual PL 1 builds look like, only the lategame.

    (Continued in next post)

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  11. *an extra 5 MP to get the energy you need, in the stuff above. Sorry, big typo.

    (Continued)

    B) In practice, PL 1 leftover points are less of an issue in the old BCG builds than the Experimental Booklet update because with enough rejiggering, you could always get everything you wanted even if it left you with a couple leftover points (which you would end up spending down the line, so these points were 'virtual' leftovers - just banked until you had a little bit more for your next incremental stat upgrade). Using the experimental booklet, when you end up without points for something you need, one of your stats is going to end up not slightly lowered, but *kneecapped*. Some builds can make do with Guard 3 or Threshold 3, for instance. Very few builds can make do with Guard 2 or Threshold 2, because a 10 from an offense-heavy character can get you oneshotted. Meaningful stat-to-upgrade tradeoffs end up being eliminated in the EB update, because they become so costly you gimp yourself for taking them. Look at the Commander Type build and compare the cost of the old and new statlines. 79 MP vs 85. The old build gives you an entire upgrade's worth of extra MP to play with. This is particularly important in the brave new post-EB world, because it means you have 40 MP to spend instead of 35...and acquiring Commander Type, Assisted Targeting, Integrated Weapons and a shooting weapon to combo with the first two costs...40 MP on the dot. A build using the old statblock has to sacrifice Fire At Will to fit all the essentials in, but its core remains intact, and it will survive a combat situation just fine because it is still a hyper-precise, ultra-long-ranged sniping machine that is hellaciously tough to take down because you have to KO it to stop it from sniping. A build using the EB Attributes...won't. Because while it is more precise, it is vulnerable to maiming, so its TP pool is, in practice, half or a quarter that of old statblock build's. You can't really sacrifice any stat to buy back Integrated Weapons without feeling the hit. The closest thing is Systems, I guess? That still forces you to get closer to the fray (bad with your now-gimped Speed 2, means lost turns spent moving), makes it easier for melee enemies to engage you while giving you fewer turns of 'free damage' due to having to cover great distances (also bad because you have no action advantage), and it makes you lose sniper duels really hard because your range is simply shorter than your opponent's (terrible, because you're a sniping machine, you NEED to be able to engage long ranged targets before they obliterate your melee buddies...and your low speed makes it hard to chasedown, too).

    Do you see what I mean here? What seemed like an innocuous, beneficial change pretty much buried shooting weapons compared to melee ones, because the costs of staying competitive with melee went up so much you have to gimp your stats to remain viable. You didn't intend this. I'm not venturing a guess here, I'm making a statement. Ranged weapons having to pay such a premium to stay competitive with melee weapons was not part of the plan, especially when their defensive options are not as simple and cheap as melee ones (I can elaborate on this if you want) so they have to use nonstandard defense methods. In the end though, that's exactly what happened.

    (Continued)

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  12. (Continued)

    This is why simplification and elegance is not always a desirable goal. Sometimes, you just cannot afford the price of being elegant and simple because it irreversibly damages the core of your gameplay. It's kinda like how Street Fighter 2 Turbo is played with like 3 frames skipped out of ten. Does this lead to glitchy shit because inputs are dropped? Yes. Does this mean some things randomly connect or don't (like O. Ryu's flying tatsu) because the player cannot actually see that he is in danger fast enough to take a step forward and survive? Yes. Does this mean throws can be coinflips because you miss out on the key frames that would have confirmed who threw first? Yes. Is it still necessary to make the game the timeless classic we all know and love? Fuck yes. Super Turbo is a slow goddamn mess with 0 frameskip, and the world is a better place thanks to the factory defaults being set at 3.

    (Man, that was long and pretty much a blogpost in disguise. I should get one of those newfangled blog things someday. I do have some projects that need hosting, anyways...)

    C) You say builds have more starting XP now. I ask for actual mathematical proof of this. You yourself said in the blogpost that characters still have the same XP at PL 1. Seeing how build costs actually went *up* for characters with a primary stat and a coprimary (like EN on a heavy offense build), I see this as not being the case. This goes double due to the Commander Type nerf and the Guardian of Steel/Stealth Field split. Combined, these things hit the Heavy Ranged Offense archetype, the Pure/Heavy Support archetype, AND the Pure/Heavy Tank archetype right in the gonads, since they all got hit by a 10 MP surcharge (or a 20 MP surcharge for the Support Tank!), leaving heavy offense melee builds (powerful) and mediocre jacks of all trades (bad) very dominant compared to them. While one change could have, in theory, given the nerfed builds cheaper costs overall, the price increases to their main tools had the opposite effect, destroying their budgets and forcing them to give up key components of their builds to stay in the game. If you want to actually open up build paths and bring balance to the builds, I suggest one or several of the following:

    -Make PL 0 go from 20 to 39 MP, and PL 1 start at 40 MP. This inflated MP total allows the nerfed builds to still finish their core essentials and also pick up a couple neat side tricks, and reintroduces actual tradeoffs to the mix (for example, the heavy sniper can get his entire core kit AND hit Might 10 right out of the gate, but only if he nerfs his Systems to 2. is it worth it? You be the judge. It'd give it a bit of thought, at a minimum). A hackjob, but a GOOD hackjob.
    -Nerf Melee's ability to get two advantages for pretty much free, since you're either Engaging if you're melee, or you're not attacking (unless you're using the Extending Blade, which is basically the Jesus Christ of melee by giving it an affordable ranged workhorse). Have their Engagement advantage replaced by either +2 damage (but NOT attack bonus!) or something else. Unnecessary, and it will make melee players justifiably mad, but if you're gonna nerf everything...
    -Reduce the energy cost of Commander Type to 4 and Guardian of Steel to 4. This fixes the cost imbalances of melee and jacks vs everything else. Another good idea is to reduce the cost of the Double Blaster to 4, which then restores balance to the Force by allowing for the myriad buildpaths of BCG 1.1 to come back into play. It could...maybe break something? I guess? But it works, and overall it's a simple fix.

    I think this is all I can come up with in the dead of the night, while tired and mentally exhausted from trying to sell myself on the changes. If you can think of something else (or indeed, anyone else can), please share it!

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  13. I have no idea how late it was over there (it shows here as 3-4 AM my time) but jesus dude you should not be exhausting yourself for this. That's my job. Thanks though, it is kind of hypocritical to say it like this but well-reasoned feedback is arguably the second most important part of the development process (after, you know, the development itself).

    Anyway I was basically going to lead with "We can increase the XP per PL if that's the general consensus". I was thinking more like thirty, but it could be forty. I am not married to the specific values but would like to keep the structure that does not require "enough rejibbering" to make a character without using templates.

    And now for the Shooting Weapon Manifesto.

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  14. You ask what is the reason that Shooting Weapons -have- to jump through one or more hoops to have the same output of a Melee One. Well, let's start with the basics.

    The most obvious edge of a Shooting Weapon over a Melee one is that it can shoot from a distance. It sounds obvious, but this alone means you can control the terms of engagement. The battle will not take place on the terms of the Enemy, but yours, giving you the tactical advantage. If Shooting Weapons had the Damage-per-Turn of a Melee Weapon without any complications, then Melee Weapons would be the knives that only a fool would take to a gunfight.

    The 'Sniper Zone', as I call it, is when your Maximum Range is of 16. When you have that much Range you essentially gain a free hit on the Enemy while they have to close in on you, and can employ kiting strategies effectively. With slightly above average speed (5 movement), systems (5 range), and a long range weapon (another 5 range) you can catch up to someone without investing heavily in counter-sniping weapons, but a Range of 16 or higher means you have to invest more. An Assault Rifle might not be your Chainblade, but it is better than nothing. When you can grant yourself Aim bonuses every Turn (your Maximum Range becomes at least 10 with all Shooting Weapons) entering the 'Sniper Zone' is trivial. And you're getting a +4 to your Might too. That is either a free turn that hurts or guaranteed kiting that also hurts.

    There is also how shooting from that far away means you can afford to lose some points in defense, because you don't have to put yourself in immediate danger. When someone runs into melee or uses a rifle from 5-10 Zones away they are opening themselves to a counterattack. When you attack from 11 or more Zones away you force them to come to you. This means they have to get out of their Defensive Terrain, break their Stealth Field/Guardian of Steel formations, and likely walk into your Bombardment/Riot Weapon/This is my Battlefield deathtraps. Range superiority means you direct the battle.

    The Aim bonus grants Shooting Weapons a +4 to their roll, which is higher than the +2 Melee Weapons get when they Duel. It might seem like a raw deal in comparison to getting stats early on, but later on it is a pretty fair one since a +3 costs more than the Upgrade itself plus Assisted Targetting. All this and we are only talking about one out of the ten things you can do with Commander Type, four of which can be also repeated indefinitely if you are willing to pay Energy for it. You can scan every Boss for free, keep all your One-Shots supplied forever (of which Shooting types get a pretty good selection, not coincidentally), double the effectiveness of your Suppression guns, and enable big energy sinks to pull off sick moves. The 10-Cost Supports justify themselves. And you can give these buffs to any of your friends if they can make a better use of it than you.

    These are really good benefits, but they come at a cost: XP. You need to spend MP to get CT, the Supports, and the Energy to power it. Who can afford to do that with a starting PC? A Team leader Character with a Support oriented Mecha, a Commander Type.

    Once you are an effective sniper, Supports are a very good secondary role you can adopt. But if you want a better sniper specialist right out of the gate, we can talk about buffing Weapon Master. Commander Type is not meant for assassins just starting out, it is for leaders. It is there in the name of the Upgrade after all.

    It is a lot more possible with 130 or 140 points though, if we end up doing that, but the core idea was from the beginning that it was something you 'cross-class' into after getting one or two Power Levels of your primary role filled in. You should consider starting a Power Level higher for the time being to solve your particular dilemma.

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  15. Lots to talk about, here. The first thing that comes to mind is the sniping zone bit. I agree that Range 16 is great to have, but I don't think it's as great as you think it is. More or less every melee machine will have an Overbooster, because closing in on a target is THAT big a deal for them. It's a point tax, just like either Commander Type+Assisted Targeting or Weapon Master (mostly Commander Type) is for Shooting weapons. Most melee machines will also have an Extending Blade, because it allows them to completely tank Systems, even starting with 0 in it if they need to squeeze points, and not really notice a deficiency in range. Worse, you can combine them. This means that, so long as you can swing EN 6 on a melee build (pretty much all melee builds can and will), it's not really possible for a sniper to reliably get even a single extra shot off - Speed 4 + Overbooster + Extending Blade covers practically the maximum range of a Systems 10 sniper starting at PL 1, and Speed 6 lets you get first strike, possessing enough range to engage in a long-range duel without fear of getting kited by anyone while closing the distance. In practice, Shooting's perceived advantage of extra shots does not exist, due to the ease with which massive range differences can be overcome. Will every melee machine have an Extending Blade? No. Will every *optimized* damage heavy machine have it? Yes. It's too important not to due to its perks of range, good damage, and piercing through Custom Defenses tailored against Shooting while still boasting Shooting weapon range. Because of this combo, having a sniper build lose Guard is really bad for them, since it means the melee attacker does the exact same damage from afar (due to the two point drop) but has a higher ceiling (due to being capable of gaining an Advantage from Engaging). Assuming identical dierolls, a melee build using Extending Blade will beat a Sniper every single time. The only weapon that stands a remote chance of functioning as a good kiting gun in the Extending Blade + Overbooster world is the Powered Rifle, because of its +5 range which allows it to actually get a free shot in against melee enemies, pretty much guaranteed. You can't pull this off at PL 1, however, because you need EN 8 to combine it with Commander Type. Thus, melee remains at a great advantage, even against the dedicated ultra-long-range sniping weapon.

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  16. That covers my thoughts on why the theory of sniping, while great to think about, doesn't actually work in practice, but there's more to it than that. Let's go over a few important details:

    -Sniper builds, unlike melee builds, have heavy Multiple Attribute Dependency (MAD). You need Systems to snipe from afar, but it does absolutely nothing for you besides that and making some supports easier to use...plus you need Speed to actually get around and, if you are so inclined, to do some kiting. And Might to, well, down enemy Gears. By contrast, a melee build does not care for Systems - besides protecting from Extreme Terrain, it does nothing useful for them. They can push the attribute to 0 and focus on Might and Speed, ending up with a stronger pair of attributes.
    -Melee has much simplified defensive options compared to Shooting. A Custom Defense against Shooting will protect a Melee Gear from its worst weakness (taking damage while on the approach due to kiting). You don't NEED a defense against Melee because if anyone attacks you in melee, you can hit them back, without exception (you did pack an Extending Blade so melee jerks can't kite you, right?), and your build is probably tailored towards doing such massive damage you'll beat them down before they kill you. By contrast, snipers have to fear Melee and Shooting weapons an almost equal amount, because Shooting weapons can more easily set up sniper duels, but as outlined above, a melee build can't really be kited normally. This means their defensive itemization is worse as a rule due to not having one super dominant option to stick with.
    -Melee has a much simplified weapon selection. Can you hit your target and have Speed 10? A Boosted Lance is the most damaging weapon you can pick that isn't a Technique. Need a reliable weapon? Take an Extending Blade. Need a finisher with maximum damage? Radiant Fist. That's the size of it, really. There's very simple weapons with clear use cases available to melee, and by contrast, Shooting Weapons aren't quite as easy to select. Sure, a Powered Rifle is the best sniping weapon, and a Double Blaster the best deeps weapon, but these guns have flaws (one doesn't work if someone gets in your face, the other has short range and slowly kills you). There's no all-purpose workhorses in the Shooting Weapons gallery like the Extending Blade. You need more tools to cover all possible situations adequately than a melee character does, or else you have to settle for a less-good tool in exchange for appropriately broad competencies. This hurts Shooting Weapons in a sneaky way, by indirectly requiring them to spend more points to achieve parity of offensive options with Melee.
    -Melee has a higher damage peak. In the face of the failure of sniping tactics and kiting, this is a key factor that backbreaks shooting weapons, assuming two opponents of about equal optimization. The guy with the extra +2 will win more often than the guy without it, naturally.

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  17. Lastly, there's the matter of build variety. Because it just needs to spend a few MPs to have something that will work in all situations (Overbooster + Extending Blade is what, 15 MP?), Melee builds can diversify: You've got Berserkers using The Beast and Regeneration (or would if it did not misleadingly give you bonus advantages only when knocked into your third threshold or lower instead of starting at the second threshold, due to the innate disadvantages canceling the first advantage out. Seriously, can we get a fix for this? It's such a brutal nerf on an archetype that doesn't need it and is THIS CLOSE to being good), skirmishers that hang around the mid-range with Extending Blade and then pounce forward and delete a target from existence, daredevils using the Boosted Lance and Chainblade to dish out massive amounts of damage in somewhat unreliable ways, and even mook cleaners with Whirlwind Attack. And of course, Beam Specialists that use the Incinerator and Radiant Fist to create fireworks.

    Ranged builds can't diversify. If you want to do ranged damage you WILL pay for Commander Type and Assisted Targeting, which means paying a 10 MP surcharge compared to Melee just to be able to make your stuff work (either because you need the range of aiming, or the advantages, or both). Then you've got to pay 10 MP for Reversible Thrusters if you wanna snipe (and whatever good Speed costs you), or 10 MP to buy more Energy and then some more points to buy defenses if you want to be a scrapper, and now you're a billion points in the hole compared to Melee, and pigeonholed into a semi-Support build because only the support upgrade allows you to hit the numbers you need to hit. Ranged builds are boring due to the lack of choices in how you achieve the minimum numbers necessary to be good at your job instead of mediocre. A new build path that allows them to push their numbers up to a reasonable level is needed so that Commander Type isn't an enormous point tax on Shooting builds. I think one thing you may want to do is split Weapon Master into two abilities, if you want to buff it: One that acts as an alternative math patch for Shooting so they can be on the level with Melee, and one that gives Melee some sort of non-numerical bonus so they do keep the niche of greater benefits in exchange for some risks. If Shooting-focused builds can choose to not be support-oriented, new material can be developed that helps them find new niches that are just as rich as the ones Melee weapons have.

    PS: Don't worry about me overthinking things and tiring myself out. Doing mechanics work is fun! Delivering useful feedback is my way of helping BCG be the best game it can be, and I think half an hour less of shut-eye is not a terrible price to pay if it results in a better game. Thanks for the concern though!

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  18. The easiest compromise I can think of is to take the existing Genre Powers meant to do this (Got you Where I Wanted and Sniping the Targets) and make them passive Upgrades instead. I don't know how good an idea this will be in the context of a High XP game but the possibility is there.

    Speaking of which I was running numbers while waiting 2 hours for the train and I have -no idea- whether a starting 100 XP plus 40 XP per Power Level is great or terrible. 140 is pretty strong for a starting character, but I guess moving the sweet spot from PL 2-3 to PL 1-2 might not be a bad thing. I am more concerned about how 300 XP ridiculously high, especially when you can get your Attributes to +8 for 30. You can get all 8's and still have something ludicrous like 120 XP to spend on everything else.

    (It is also just enough to get +10 everywhere but basically nothing else, which I find both amusing and terrifying)

    While on one hand this could be considered cool because it does hammer home that PL 5 is effectively Godlike, I am more concerned about what it will do to NPCs. A wave of PL 1-2 Grunts with just enough stats to survive first strike barrages then launch their own would be really, really dangerous even to a high PL PC party. Bosses could become invincible supermonsters due to their obscenely high stats or fail to be a match for 2 PCs entirely because raw stats plus a handful of special abilities just aren't enough to compete with PCs. But they could get more Genre per Power Level or something, I don't know yet.

    The main thing I want to draw from this is that it is -interesting-. It would be certainly worth testing, because I can't see anything immediately terrible about it without taking it to practice.

    There are, however, a few points where I remain skeptical.

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  19. If guns have the damage output of swords but also attack from a distance, then swords are essentially worse. What this means is that from a perspective of pure numbers, and assuming both characters are engineered towards 1v1 duels, Melee has to be slightly more effective than Shooting. It does not have to be an effective +4 in difference, but it has to be a +2 at least.

    If the MP cost of giving Shooting Weapons a passive Sniping the Targets is juuust high enough (15? 20?) then a Melee user could get either the equivalent of Got you Where I Wanted or another +2. That would be somewhat safe to handle, I think.

    Then there's The Beast. It is effectively a combo of Integrated Weapons plus a way to pierce barriers at low health. How would you like an unmaimable weapon whose ability is to ignore barriers? It sounds pretty decent to me. Now make it grant you a +4 to attack. Suddenly it is an amazing deal.

    After 2-3 Rounds, The Beast is that Weapon but twice. But what about burst and utility Weapons? What about the long range capability? You can still buy those with XP. And you have more freedom in choosing them because your better guns are the unmaimable ones.

    Is it weaker than most weapons at the start? Somewhat, but not necessarily, since the barrier piercing is always active. Get an Incinerator (or a Double Blaster with the Experimental rules) to use early on and later dump that Energy into an Absolute Barrier. It costs all of 40 XP.

    If we make it even stronger then The Beast would essentially become the Experimental Reactor of the new world, being essentially too good to pass up for anyone who wants a higher damage output at a mid-high Power Level for basically no downside.

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  20. Re: The Beast, it has no downsides besides effectively reducing your threshold gains in half for the purposes of effective fighting, you mean. That's kind of the reason The Beast is not as good as it looks - one, it FORCES you to invest in Threshold as a priority stat, effectively turning it into your coprimary stat in replacement of Energy, Speed and Guard (not that this is an awful thing since Threshold is kind of kickass, but it's a very real opportunity cost). Two, since even with the innate disadvantage lifted it requires you to be on your third threshold to get a +4 bonus to attack rolls, it puts you at risk of getting oneshotted by the enemy team when fighting Rivals or Bosses, since your first and second thresholds don't really do anything for you and you need to get to the last one ASAP. The Beast has a very clear sweetspot with the disads removed: Third threshold, where it's just strong enough to be a clean upgrade over all other melee weapons (but *not* ranged. The Beast looks like a really really bad Ranged option to me when a Double Blaster does the same thing but more reliably, and for less MP cost even with Integrated Weapons added), but with enough wiggle room to avoid getting oneshotted with some team assistance. If the disadvantage isn't removed it doesn't *have* a sweetspot, because any offense-heavy opponent will be able to obliterate you just when The Beast comes into its own at the fourth threshold with a Synchro Attack (or a Signature Weapon use, if you want something even easier to pull off). Assuming a reasonable Tension 3 and that your Guard isn't as high as the enemy's Might (very reasonable, let's say two points higher as a 'best case' scenario for the Berserker), you're taking 1d10+4 (two advantages from proper optimization) +3 (Tension Bonus) +2 (Difference between Might and Guard) +4 (Two-man Synchro or Signature Weapon), or an average of 18.5 damage. Subtract the +5 Guard gets and that's 13.5 damage on an average roll. In other words, on everything but a 1 or 2, the current Berserker can be oneshotted in his moment of power, possibly with no recourse if Signature Weapon is in the mix...and this is if he has Threshold 10. With each point of Threshold less, the chance of having your fun wiped out by a big shot increases exponentially. For instance, a Threshold 9 Berserker has a 10% chance of having both his third AND fourth thresholds instantly deleted by his opponent. This increases to a whopping 50% at Threshold 8. You see what I'm talking about here? The risk for the Berserker if he can't function at a bonus on Thresholds 2 and 3 is just too high. Sticking on your fourth layer leaves you too susceptible to OHKOs for the tradeoff to be worthwhile.

    Meanwhile, as for Weapon Master replacements, I think your idea is probably worth trying. If Sniping The Targets was a passive, say, Cost 15/20 option (preferrably 15, since that's the same amount melee pays for its own tax in the form of Overbooster + Extending Blade), that'd swing things back into melee being kitable if you truly make a serious effort and give shooting weapons a real niche. You'd need to make up new powers to replace the ones moving into the realm of Upgrades, but that's hardly the worst thing in the world - the Champion power list is sort of really really boring at the moment and could afford to have more fun options. I say go for it!

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  21. The opportunity cost is not much of one, with XP comes more Threshold for basically everyone. Hence my comparison to Experimental Reactor.

    The big thing is that the Third Level of Threshold isn't just a +2 as is, it is a +2 that also ignores Active Defenses. That is very often more than a +4 when you put the two together.

    You also have to look at it as more than just a damage booster, it is also an alternative to Integrated Weapons. If on top of making you punch harder when you get hurt it makes your Default Weapons have all upside from the get go it basically makes IW (and arguably a handful of weapons) irrelevant.

    I mean I could lift the innate Disadvantage, but I'd have to do away with the barrier piercing (and make it cost something like 15 to compensate the overall loss of power).

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  22. The thing is, how often does the barrier piercing come up against priority targets, AKA the guys who are killing your own side? Look at the builds we've talked about so much. Range can't afford an Active Defense and melee can only defend against shooting. This can change at higher PLs, but you're not guaranteed to run into an active defense on every combatant at any level of play, especially not priority ones. Active Defense piercing in general is something I think is overrated - 'enuff dakka' is a good enough answer to it, and for when you really really REALLY need to specifically pierce a defense, you can just get Signature Weapon. Signature Weapon in general is really fierce competition for Weapon Master and The Beast at any PL past the first (and even in the first it's really good, just limited by only getting one shot of it per battle). It's got a much lower opportunity cost than a barrier-piercing upgrade, and generally I'd prefer to have it over having one of them because it does a real decent job of giving me an offensive leg-up compared to other Champion powers. I think it's fine to just buff The Beast and not take out the defense piercer - in my eyes, it's going to be someone you base *your entire strategy* around. You don't get many other weapons because you already have it and it does most of what you need, you disregard defenses beyond some token lip service because you WANT to get hurt...you get where I'm going with this, right? It's an upgrade that creates an entirely separate build, not one that complements other stuff. The buy-in ('max this stat you otherwise wouldn't max until much later first, pay 20 MP, willingly get hurt') is just so high that it doesn't have crossover with normal builds, and it should grant accordingly great benefits.

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  23. I do get it, it's meant to be a "build around me" thing, but the prerequisites aren't that restrictive. All characters, whether they want it or not, get hurt. All characters want a Threshold somewhere between 6 and 8 and they want it before PL 4 usually.

    So since you are going to get hurt and be pushed to the brink every now and then, when that does happen, which would you rather have:

    -A +2 Might boost plus Integrated Weapons.
    -The Beast.

    As is I don't think this choice is obvious one way or the other. The former is upfront but more expensive. The latter is only functional after a Round or two, but gives much better rewards. I think that an additional +2, at the same price, would certainly tip things.

    Like with anything, it can be tested. It is certainly no Commander Type, but I'd give it a Cost of 25 to make it slightly less of a steal for anyone who is being superaggressive from the start.

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  24. A cost of 25 sounds reasonable for the Beast package if the disads are removed. That makes it functional, pricy, and not too bad to use. Sounds like it would be worth a shot to me.

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