...It turns out the old way was much more clear. Whoops. That brings us to the most recent poll in which I bring up a third option: Turning them into abilities that create Zones of Difficult/Extreme Terrain. For the most part this changes very little, it just weakens them slightly because now you can avoid them via flight or terrain adaptation. It is an acceptable setback, all things considered, but more on that later.
Anyway this also got me thinking about possibly making a few changes to Terrain itself. If abilities that mimic Terrain could use a rewrite to work like you would expect them to, then Terrain itself could also deserve getting another look at. It is not an herculean task by any means, but still one not to be taken lightly.
Time for a (relatively) short aside about rewriting things!
I'm no stranger to tweaking mechanics until I get them right, and can do adjustments on things that just need a slight buff or nerf fast and easy. The problem is when a change is not a matter of tweaking one or more knobs but requires an actual rewrite. Changing the rules of a thing often means changing what that thing represents in fluff terms and sometimes it requires changing multiple other rules to go with it.
I'm fine with doing that too, in moderation and for a good reason, like with Beams and Attributes/XP. But those changes are not just more complex from a design standpoint, they also take a whole lot longer and sometimes delay other things. When you have a +2 Gun of Shootin Gud and you buff it to make it a +4 Gun instead, everyone understands what you're doing right out of the gate. When you turn it into a +2 Scoped Silenced Gun of Shootin Gud you have to first test it out to make sure that the scope and silenced bits work as intended, make sure you write out the final version in a way that reads as intended, then finally make sure it doesn't create a black hole in rules terms when sitting right next to the rest of the game. Playtesting and editing are twice as rigorous when rewrites are involved.
Terrain is one of those rare instances in that the Terrain rules can get a tweak and the rest of the game should hold up fine enough in theory. In practice there's a lot of other rules that care about Terrain and those are going to need adjustments in response to make sure they work not just fine enough but flawlessly.
|Pictured: My editor every time I bring up rewrites.|
Old Places with New Faces
Plain and Impassable Terrain are fine as is. They are both pretty simple concepts and Let's start with the simplest change I've got in mind.
Extreme Terrain: As is, but you can use the better of Systems or Speed with the Test instead of averaging it. Conceptually this means you can maneuver out of the way of trouble or use your equipment to mitigate damage depending on what you know best, rather than being forced to do both. I also think Extreme Terrain could use a slight nerf. Since the DN increases with Tension and you can get hit by Extreme Terrain twice per Turn, repeated exposure feels like you're being hit by multiple Techniques. This way Extreme Terrain would still be pretty strong, but all it takes to decrease the average Damage taken is Systems or Speed, not both.
Difficult Terrain: Difficult Terrain would just halve your Speed and leave your Guard untouched. This is not because of balance concerns but rather for pure flavor reasons. Difficult Terrain is currently any kind of place where it is hard to move and you are a sitting duck, but if we change it to just halving Speed (what it originally did) we can now have Zones where it is hard to move but that also provide protection, like rocky hills or thick jungles. This would obviously affect the power level of anything that creates Difficult Terrain but let's set that aside for now.
Defensive Terrain: Defensive Terrain shields you with a Disadvantage against all attacks made against you instead of giving you a huge bonus only when Maneuvering. It does make sense that everyone would have an easier time in there rather than just Mecha playing defensively, right? This simplifies the entry considerably while making Defensive Terrain useful for everyone, not just the team tank. One Disadvantage may not seem like much compared to the combos you could pull off with it previously, but when you don't have to do anything other than sit there to get it every Turn, it tilts the odds in your favor considerably.
Simplifying Terrain and making it less excessive in its benefits and hindrances means we can let multiple instances stack safely. Two instances of Difficult Terrain will lower your 4 Speed to 2 and then to 1. Three of Extreme Terrain means you get hit between three and six times during your Turn. Four of Defensive Terrain means four Disadvantages or a +8 to Defense.
|AND FOR MY NEXT ACT I WILL STACK ALL THREE TOGETHER.|
We need to update two Weapons and two Supports that deal with Difficult and Extreme Terrain. Let's not waste further words and get to it.
Ensnaring Trap: Halves Guard and Speed for a Round. Creating Zones of Difficult Terrain does not achieve much by itself, even if it were to continue halving Guard. Anybody you hit with it can just move 1 Zone away, after all. It also basically fails to do anything if they can fly, so just causing a debuff seems the way to go.
Finger Net: Halves Guard and Speed in the area of effect. This was always intended as an area debuff to more than just Speed, and thus would work more or less the same way it does now. It hits more targets than Ensnaring Trap and even deals some Damage but you have to get up close to do it, which makes it harder to use.
Fire at Will: Hits the target for Tension Damage and creates a single Zone of Extreme Terrain for one Round. The first real change. Just having one Zone of Extreme Terrain is pretty weak, most of the time it will only hit once and you can use your better stat to negate the Damage. This one hits twice right out of the gate, so it feels like a more focused Bombardment - and you better move out of the way before the second barrage hits you.
Incinerator: Gets a clarification at the end that it ignores abilities that would normally cancel Extreme Terrain. The flavor of being on fire makes sense like this and the simplicity of Extreme Terrain is important enough from a rules perspective that I don't mind making this the only ability in the game that needs this kind of reminder text.
There's other minor adjustments to make with things like Remote Hotfix or Stealth Field, but that covers the big ones. That's it for this week. I don't have a poll to follow the last one with but I'm still interested in hearing what you think.