Nov 16, 2014

Kickstarter Week III

Week III is basically Week II redux. You know how bad guys with multiple forms are remembered for their first and last forms but the other ones in the middle all kind of just blur together? Yeah, it is a little like that with crowdfunding too. This is an appropriate comparison, given our subject matter, but more on that later.

Here's your weekly summary:

Three Updates in Three Minutes

First of all there's Design Flaws which are Upgrades that you can take during Mecha construction to have more MP to spend but give your Mecha a big weakness. Here's the two examples:

Limited Battery Time (+30 MP)

Internal Upgrade
Effect: At the beginning of every one of your Turns after the first one, your Mecha reduces its Energy Attribute by 1 until end of Operation. After your Energy is reduced to 0, you will lose your current Level of Threshold every Turn instead.
This is a prototype so experimental that it cannot run for more than a few minutes at a time. It is so inefficient that after its battery for external equipment runs dry it the limbs will start to power down individually until it can't move at all.  

Walking Coffin (+60 MP)

Internal Upgrade
Effect: Double all the Damage that you take.
Your Mecha is a fragile little thing and the designers have made it a testbed of every feature they could think of, but apparently forgot to armor it with more than aluminum foil and to fill the tank with something other than explodium.

Then there's Interference Terrain which is a variant of Defensive Terrain. with a focus on jamming sensors and obscuring vision. Unlike Defensive Terrain, Interference Terrain does not provide real cover, it only makes you harder to pinpoint and is thus useless against weapons that don't require precise targeting and cover a wide area of effect.

Interference Terrain works both ways, any Units attacking from within, into or through Interference Terrain will suffer two Disadvantages to the Might Test unless it is with Weapons that have the Blast ability or that affect Zones instead of specific targets. That means you can use it offensively to force enemies to move out of their current position, defensively to nerf their (most likely) strongest weapons, or as a barrier between both groups to do a little bit of both.

Lastly there's nerfing Guardian of Steel. The update goes more in detail, but here's the two options I'm considering the most:

The first is to reduce Guardian of Steel's area of effect to a 1 Zone radius. This makes it only work with a team full of snipers or after a lot of setup positioning the party properly, which in turn makes everyone more vulnerable to kiting (the group now has to move at the speed of the slowest member of the party) and area weapons will hurt more. Waaay more. The effect is just as strong as it used to be but it is more situational, so you have to think about how and when to use it.

The second is to halve the Defense bonus granted to allies. Cutting the bonus to half makes it go from 6-8 to 3-4 which is a lot more manageable. Those 3-4 extra points are usually the difference between hitting for very little and not hitting at all, meaning that weapons with effects that trigger on hit can still have an effect with a good roll. Still not enough to make using those over Finger Nets and Bombardments a good idea though, but it is something. This is a boring change, but an effective one.

The Finish Line

The beginning and the end are the most important stages of a campaign. Continuing the comparison from before, this is when all the fighters get serious. I may not be able to blow up a planet in 5 minutes (that somehow take a zillion episodes) but I've been preparing for this period the most. Maybe this will work out, maybe it won't, but I sure am not going down without fighting to the end.


  1. Those design flaws are interesting. Walking Coffin is perfect - big power, at a big price and at the cost of pigeonholing you, and it lets glass cannons really strut their stuff. Good idea.

    Internal Upgrade seems like something that shouldn't be always on, though. It's a feature that's supposed to give you MP...but in fact actively takes it away after a certain point, usually an early one. It's also problematic because it's fundamentally not dependent on what you do to play with it, but what your pals do. If they play to win and optimize really hard, the time limit will be mostly inconsequential. If they screw around or build for stall tactics, you actively hurt their chances of winning. No upgrade or equipment choice should force you to micromanage everybody else's builds to make sure you'll be useful. It'd be a really nice 'super mode', though - up the drain (maybe 2 EN a round? 3?), make it activatable once per operation and impossible to turn off, and you got something that perfectly represents powerups like the Gundam Unicorn's NT-D mode.

    1. The expansion in general is for groups who already know what they are doing, LBT gives you a little bit of extra MP then starts taking it away fairly soon because it is assumed that you will be using it in a group that wants to end things fast.

      Mind, I'm not saying the cost or the timer mechanics are perfect. Maybe it could give more MP. Maybe the timer should halve your energy if you fail a systems test. There are alternatives, but a mechanic that gives you more MP to start with should make you earn it.

  2. Is that the case? My impression was that it ran the gamut - some things, like the new Extending Punch, are newbie friendly, while others aren't so much. You can kinda see that with the new features, too - Walking Coffin is very obvious in its function, benefits and drawbacks, while the Hour of Power isn't so much because it doesn't really tell you that the team effort built around it is far more important than the individual build. This may be bias, though - as a rule, I really like game elements that get better with teamwork, and really dislike elements that *mandate it* because most groups don't play to win, so they feel bad for reasons players find hard to pinpoint (and thus take out their frustrations on the game in general and quit it). This makes me wonder though...what if the Hour of Power edited your abilities more thoroughly? For instance, if after losing 2 energy you gianed Overheat on all weapons, and Slow after 4, or if it had some kind of teamwork element (Jury Rigs null the penalty for a round?). Something that dropped the hint that teamwork matters for that feature more obviously. I'm just spitballing here, though - it's an interesting design dilemma to make these kinds of abilities function for beer-and-pretzel games without dumbing them down.

    1. Let me rectify myself: I'm not afraid to have things in the expansion that require more effort than normal to make them work, while that was pretty much a no-no for core*.

      To be perfectly honest, that is a very interesting idea for LBT that I did not consider at all. I can see it being easy to trivialize that weakness by just say, going full support and not having weapons at all, but it is certainly a concept worth exploring.

      *Exceptions made for genre staples that couldn't be simplified too much, like transformations and combinations.

  3. Glad to have helped bring a new perspective to the table. These features really do exert a very powerful hold on my imagination, so anything I can do to help make them better is huge in my book.

  4. Bought the collectors, so im hyped for that. So.... When do I get my fin funnels gimmickman ;)

    1. This is a spoiler-free zone!

    2. Please don't colony drop me, I don't have a magic flying T to stop it from killing us all.