Jun 15, 2015

Final Tally of Changes. Part II: Mecha.

Oh boy oh boy it is update time! A day late, yes. Sorry about that but I spent the whole afternoon yesterday under the weather. The good news is that we're printing test copies already so we are very close to the finish line. As usual, what you'll read in the rest of this post shouldn't be much of a surprise if you've been following the blow. I'm going to paste the main dish of the most recent Kickstarter update here, changes in italics are from the Experimental Rules PDF while changes in bold are modifications of the experimental rules or entirely new.

General Changes

  • Cores can no longer use Upgrades and Weapons after ejection: The core ejection is meant to give the PC one last chance to retreat in battle, possibly using another Genre Power or two to help their allies before leaving at most. Builds focusing on Support Upgrades and The Beast could use it to keep fighting after being defeated. Especially with the case of The Beast, this was an unfair advantage.
  • Impassable Terrain now deals damage to units that are forcefully slammed into it: There's going to be more ways to move enemies around in the expansion, this makes those better and makes Impassable Terrain something more interesting than just a barrier.
  • Shooting Weapons no longer gain a +5 range bonus from Aiming, that bonus goes to Long Range Weapons instead: This helps out the melee weapons with reach a little. More importantly, it is now possible to balance guns like Riot Weapon and Bombardment around having short range, which were never intended to be used from the safety of your side's back row.
  • All Blasts now have their own unique blast radius between 1 and 4. All other area of effect weapons have been keyworded as either Burst (those that attack enemies around the user) or Line (those that attack all units in a straight line): Most Blasts are size 2, going up to 3 with Artillery Frame. Bursts got a bit of a buff since the experimental pdf in that they only target enemies now.

Upgrades

  • Stealth Field is 2 Disadvantages to non-Burst, Blast or Line Weapons: This makes it function like Interference Terrain from the expansion and is a good defensive boost that does not, you know, make you completely immune to like three of every four Weapons in the game.
  • Artillery Frame works with all Blast, Burst and Line Weapons and costs 5 less but has the blast radius bonus reduced by 1: Giving the advantage bonus to Bursts and Lines means more options for your build and it is cheaper to compensate for how most blasts lost a 2-3 zone radius overall.
  • Invincible Alloy is 20 MP: As per the poll discussed a week ago.
  • Guardian of Steel has a reduced range of 1 Zone around the user: Still very strong, but now conditional since it requires proper positioning.
  • Resupply can spend multiple uses at once with one Action: As of the preview v2 it takes a while for Support types to get going, but once they do they can pull some really nasty moves and even combo them together... Once per fight. This lets them do multiple combos each Operation, making them more fun to use.
  • Supports have a reduced range to just plain Systems: Buuuuut just to be on the safe side, we don't want them pulling those combos from 10+ Zones away while they keep running away from anything threatening, so we're reducing their range to keep them from outshining snipers at their own niche.
  • Expansion Pack holds 30 MP and costs 20: I went pretty in depth into this one last update.
  • Combining takes up one Action from one participant, not one Action from everyone: It is a small buff, but one worth having for combiners that deploy without combining first.
  • Unison Combination costs 10: Just a small buff. I figure there's enough downsides to being combined that this doesn't need to cost 20.
  • Component Unit replaced with Super Combination which costs 10 for everyone involved and averages Might, Guard, Systems and Speed: This is a big one, and I'm not a fan of it, but the old Component Unit just wasn't cutting it. One Component Unit attached made your Mecha stronger than a Boss, two made it near invincible and it just got worse from there. I haven't given up on dedicated Component Units though, they are going to make a comeback for the expansion, so I can get them right.

Weapons

  • Boosted Lance can no longer be used to escape from Duels: It was better than Slippery Chassis at its own job. Yyyep.
  • Antiair Missiles got a buff of an additional Advantage to their use: This more or less doubles the power of Antiair Missiles to a pretty respectable +4 against aerial targets, but it is still a very conditional Weapon. Most flying Mecha can transform out of plane form or, you know, just land. And in space or underwater this is just barely better than a Default Weapon. I'm calling this balanced.
  • Rocket Punch has a bonus +2 to its Maximum Range: This makes it useful even with a Systems of 0, even with a meager investment of 10 points into Systems 4 this gets a respectable reach of 7 Zones. This should help duelists close the distance with snipers.
  • Assault Rifle now doesn't risk hitting allies in a duel: It is half a Crippling gun now! This should make it much more effective as a general use Weapon.
  • Electrosapper Pods is a One Shot that deals bonus Damage equal to your Systems: It is stronger and much more interesting to use now, especially since high Systems builds are the ones most likely to have ways to reload it.
  • Resonance Cannon is Slow instead of One Shot: Still an inaccurate gun with short range but now a lot stronger and the bane of Absolute Barrier tanks.
  • Superheavy Machinegun is now a Line with Long Range instead of a Blast: This represents the concept much better than a Blast, and while Line is arguably weaker than Blast, having Long Range and not hitting all of your friends with a -4 to attacks is a big upside.
  • Beams now have a base cost of 1 energy to their use, but cost 1 less to Boost: This was in the previous set of three polls. 

18 comments:

  1. Boosted Lance can no longer be used to escape from Duels:

    It's a heavy nerf that makes it useless in duels and makes the high speed useless there.

    Should have a provision that you CAN escape from duel with it IF you have slippery chassis.


    HMG with long range is MUCH easier to use. You can't move when using this weapon so it makes it much easier to position yourself well. It more than makes up for the blast -> line nerf.

    Not sure about 20 MP 30 space expansion pack. It makes the purge basically useless. Yeah, you survive instead of dying. But with no weapons and defenses you might as well be dead. It's not like you'll contribute much anyway.

    I'd prefer it to be 10 MP 10 space to encourage purging more. You could have stuff like one shot pods that get purged later for defense bonus. That's really cool and much more useful.

    20/30 pack is still pretty much better than integrated weapons because for 5 MP more you can fit all the weapons you want and still have spare space for other stuff. Only builds with no defenses and any other non weapon externals would consider it.

    And even then I'd rather spend the 15 MP on assistant with Trump card and pull unmaimable weapons from thin air depending on what I need.

    Assistant (Trump card) + 2 genre points = 15 MP + 2 GP
    Integrated weapons 15 MP + 3 weapons 15 MP = 30 MP

    The weapon flexibility from the first option is completely superior.

    Trump card needs to be 1/operation. It is really strong and will replace normal buying of weapons if not limited.



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  2. About boosted lance getting a provision for use with slippery chassis: The block of text is already too big but this can be part of an extended troubleshooting section so sure, sure why not.

    Expansion pack was never meant to be taken in multiples, and you can only take it once anyway, so that use is out. There's a few builds that don't live or die by their external upgrade/weapon areas but would still like to have an antimaim of some sort, preferably one that does not use energy. Support specialists and The Beast users come to mind here.

    Trump card as a replacement for buying weapons is a good alternative, yes. But it is very skill intensive and if you want to do anything with it except use generalist weapons you'll need to build around it (getting ways to reload your one-shots, specialist upgrades for stacking advantages) which removes its primary advantage: versatility. It has downsides.

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  3. integrated weapons 15 MP + 3 weapons 15 MP = 30 MP
    Assistant (Trump card) 15 MP + Assistant (Anything) 15 MP + 1 genre point = 30 MP + 1 genre point - 1 extra free power

    You effectively pay 1 genre point to get to choose your 3 weapons instead of having them fixed and you get additional good genre power as a bonus.

    Why would anybody ever take integrated weapons with 3 weapons?

    Even with 4 weapons Trump card version is much better, though not overwhelmingly so.

    The Beast totally needs 30 MP worth of space, right?
    I mean you have an active defense there. And... uh... That's it.
    Wow 20 MP for a huge pack with 30 space that I only use 1/3 of. Great deal.
    Just spend that 30+ MP it would cost you on guard and threshold.

    In fact 30 MP is enough for virtually everybody. Expansion pack will still be the only anti-maim taken ever.

    Invincible alloy will only get used on combiners since they get A LOT of stuff that can't fit in pack.

    Everybody else can easily fit in the pack and they don't want to pay 2 energy per turn.

    Invincible alloy gets the last stand but pack has purge which is certainly worse but not 2 energy per turn worse.

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    1. Paying that one extra genre point for your third weapon really, really hurts at low power levels. If you start at Level 2+ and you really, really want the flexibility of Trump Card then sure, it is probably worth doing. If you're building around using a specific set of weapons you don't want to have to spend GP just to get them though.

      Yeah, it is good, but not good enough to completely replace integrated weapons let alone buying weapons normally.

      Similarily, EP gets better the more XP you start with. Early on you won't even have the MP to fill it up, after that it depends on the build. A meleeist gets more mileage out of the survival effect from invincible alloy and the beast can arguably use either just as well.

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  4. Trump Card vs Integrated

    On low levels you very much do want the extra genre power the second assistant gives you. Assuming you take a 1/op power that's twice as effective as default one your overall GP efficiency stays the same.

    It scales better.
    Basic investment into integrated weapons is 20 MP for 1 unmaimable weapon but assistant trump card gives exactly that but flexible for 15 MP.

    For 2 weapons it's 25 MP vs 15 MP + 1 GP. Is 1 GP worth 10 MP on low PL? That's easily +2 to stats so I say very much yes.

    For 3 weapons it's the basic case. MP costs are the same. You get one GP less but one genre power more. Assuming 1/op genre powers are twice as effective as default ones it makes up for you having 1 GP less. So it doesn't cost you anything really and you get the flexible weapons for free (and even more flexibility because you get extra genre power that can easily give you triple not double value of default genre power on some builds).

    Only when getting 4th weapon with integrated weapons it is worth considering it against trump card assistant. It's very hard to get 4 weapons that will be used well in every single fight.

    3 flexible weapons are easily equal to 4 fixed ones because the 3 are optimized for the current situation and the 4 ones need to cover all situations and might be less than optimal in the current one. It doesn't even need to be 3 weapons. Might be a scenario where you only need 2 and you have a extra GP. Might be a situation where you need 4 so you pay 1 GP extra but get 4 weapons perfectly suited for scenario. I said earlier that having a perfect weapon for the situation is easily worth 1 GP. The 1 GP you pay instead of 5 MP for 4th weapon is still a total steal for having 4 flexible weapons instead of 4 fixed ones.

    So trump card assistant(s) is better with 1 weapon, with 2 weapons, with 3 weapons and with 4 weapons. With 5 or more weapons you'd have to take specialist weapons that won't get used in some scenarios to get the real benefit of so many weapons. Having less flexible weapons is just as good if not better if some of your fixed weapons won't get used is some scenarios because they're specialized.

    There is no reason to ever take integrated when recyclable trump card exists. Not on low PL, not on high PL.

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    1. And even on PL1 you have 6-7 GP so 1 point is not such a big deal.

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  5. EP (and IW and IA) have a huge upfront cost of 20 MP (15 MP). It takes 50 MP to get it and fill it so it's at least 2 whole pwer levels where you're at suboptimal MP spent.

    Now again anti-maims are still basically mandatory but that makes solutions that avoid the big up front cost and are more scalable just better. (Like trump card discussed before)

    Now for expansion pack specifically. It's very big. 30 MP space is a lot. Even endgame PL5 builds will have trouble filling the pack.

    Standard loadout is 10 MP in active defenses + 2 weapons. Anything after that is luxury. The eremaining 10 MP is hard to fill.

    It also kinda nerfs support specialists because they really don't have anything to put into the pack and they MUST have resupply. How do you keep it unmaimed? EP is too big. IA costs the same 20 MP AND has energy cost. I guess you have to go EP (resupply + ECS + sapper pods) but that's still 25 MP. You've almost filled it but you still have space left. You can purge it without much trouble after you use all the resupply though.

    The new Believe in myself antimaim lasts 3 rounds. You can eat through significant amount of resupplies in that time (6 or so) so I think this will be the go to method. You should be able to use the remaining 4 before you get your first threshold eaten. You only have to last 2 turns engaged to achieve that. Tension is low at start so it's easily doable. The heal from believe in meself perfectly balances EP purge too. This solution avoids the big up front cost of EP and is more scalable so it has advantage there too. I think for supports believe in myself is overall better than EP.

    There is a build that is hurt by the new EP though. The beast. It really has nothing to put in the pack. It only needs absolute barrier. The rest of the pack will be empty. There is no good solution to get it unmaimable too. It's 20 for EP + 10 for barrier + whatever into energy to power it. It's just better to spend that 30+ MP into raw guard and threshold. Or just get two absolute barriers. 75% to have it up on third threshold and like 40% to have it on 4th. 3 barriers is 88% to have it on 4th. But at that point you can get EP for the same cost. It gives you 100% until the end AND the purge to give you extra 5 HP which will probably be one more attack needed to kill you.

    That just shows the power of expansion pack. Even if you only use 10 space from it it'd still be worth taking here. But it actually has 3 times more space!

    Or you could you believe in myself again. You only have 50% to lose the barrier on your first threshold. Then believe in myself heals you back up to give you another 50%. And you could have support with don't give up to get it up again for another 50%. That should last you for the whole battle or most of it.
    I guess believe in myself is pretty good now.

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  6. For normal builds it was like that:

    With the old 10MP/15space pack the go to build was 10 MP in active defenses + weapon in 1 pack + trump card (assistant).

    With the 10MP/10space pack I was proposing it was 10 MP in active defenses + 2 weapons spread over 2 packs.

    With the new 20MP/30space pack ...
    hmmmm

    Now that I look at it the new EP isn't so bad. It's hard to fill but it encourages more weapons and upgrades instead of raw stats like before so that's good. Non weapon/defense externals were very rare before but with this change they are more attractive because you have kinda have spare space in pack now. 10 MP in defenses and 4 weapons seems like a good loadout to balance around.

    I guess my only complaint is that purge is mostly useless. It might save your life yeah but without weapons or defenses that default attack is basically worthless. The multiple cheap low space packs is super cool but it needs more work I guess.

    Another idea I was toying with is expansion pack with no space. It would basically be ablative shield. How much would it cost? 5 MP? 10 MP? +5 defense is basically +5 HP which is basically better than +1 threshold. 10 MP seems too expensive but 5 MP seems too cheap. What about 10 MP with the ability to resupply it? That'd be interesting. It's expansion content though so let's not worry about it now.

    I'm just thinking that maybe the purge ability should be split into another upgrade if it's basically useless on the big 30 space pack.

    Anyway back to the main point.

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  7. Expansion pack vs Invincible alloy

    1. 20 MP vs 20 MP
    2. purge vs last stand
    3. 30 space vs unlimited space
    4. no upkeep vs 2 energy

    1. no comment
    2. last stand is better because you don't lose all your stuff and still have your defenses and weapons
    3. 30 space is a lot and everybody should fit whatever they want, I don't see a build except for combiners that wants more than 30 space. If you really need even more weapons after you filled the pack just get trump card which will be more efficient.

    4. this is what kills the IA the previous point made them pretty equal but the energy upkeep make it much worse option. everybody needs energy and 2 energy can cost you like 15 MP or more even on PL2. Now you don't need to spend the energy on first threshold and you have 50% not to need to spend it on 2nd but it the end it will be sucking the energy for at least half the fight. Really smart metagaming enemies could focus the PC with signature weapon assault rifle to force him to start spending energy as soon as turn 2 or 3. Even if we assume average energy cost is 1/turn because you're lucky and your critical areas aren't maimed it's still like 8 MP cost for energy.

    IA loses completely because it doesn't offer anything better than EP because it has enough space for everybody and has an upkeep cost. The slightly better survival ability doesn't make up for the 8 MP lost for energy or more like 10 MP really.

    Expansion pack vs Integrated weapons
    1. 20 MP vs 15 MP
    2. purge vs -
    3. fits everythign vs fits only weapons
    4. up to 6 weapons vs unlimited weapons

    Nobody needs more than 4 weapons really.
    The purge itself almost makes up for the 5 MP. The versatility just seals the deal for almost all situations except a very narrow one where you have only weapons and A LOT of them. Is it worth having a separate upgrade only for such a narrow build?

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  8. tl;dr
    Expansion pack needs to be nerfed to 20 space. Making it 20/30 from 10/15 allows it to keep its very high efficiency of 2:3.
    20/20 is 1:1 efficiency which should make it more in line with others.
    IA is like 30/30 when you count energy costs so also 1:1

    20 is enough for 10 in defenses and 10 in weapons which works for every basic build.
    It allows IA to be the good solution for people that want more than that.
    Both upgrades will see reasonable amount of use.

    Integrated weapons needs something else to make it different though. Right now it's too similar to EP.

    The concept where it costs 20 and gives +1 attack to the first firing of every weapon was very good.
    If you take IW it means you won't have any defenses which is a significant opportunity cost.
    Even with with 4 weapons it is worth less than 1 might and it forces you to use all 4 which might not be that easy. Anyway it is opportunity cost for sure.
    So the extra attack is worth like 7 MP or so. 13 MP seems reasonable for weapon only pack without purge.

    It is also really cool thematically.

    I know it's super late and it's kinda a big change but IW desperately needs something to make it worth taking. Even if it ends up a bit too strong (and I don't think it will) it's better to have a fun to use upgrade than if it was completely useless and boring like it is now. And the build will be super glass cannon because no defenses so it's very easy to shut down with EMP or interference or whatever.

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  9. You need to take IW on PL1 and it's a expensive up fron cost. 1 might is worth like 6 MP on PL1 and you won't have 4 weapons so the IW bonus on PL1 is like 3 MP tops.

    You can easily change it without fear of it being OP. It scales with number of weapons and might but I think it's still less efficient than those 15 MP specialist internal upgrades which is a good place for it I think. It's better on higher PL but having no defenses hurts much more on high PL too.

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    1. And of course trump card still needs to be nerfed to 1/op.

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    2. It's called trump card (one), not a bunch of aces in your sleeve.

      It's also not a trump card if it's your standard mode of operation which you can definitely use the recyclable one as.

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    3. Integrated weapons is still better than trump card when it comes to building around /specific/ weapons. If you want a signature weapon, trump card is not very good. This is even more important when it coms to beams, because invincible alloy costs 2 energy and the defense boost of expansion pack is not worth being stuck with default weapons for a beam specialist. Integrated weapons is also good for artillery frame users since many of their options are slow or one-shot, so they need four.

      I disagree that 30 MP is difficult to fill up. Even if you only have 10 MP in weapons and then another 10 MP in defenses, there's still mobility upgrades. Even if you don't need overbooster or reversible thrusters, antigravity is very useful. If you want to stuff everything in there, you'll have to build around it. Otherwise, some stuff is going to stay out of the pack.

      Invincible Alloy still lets you survive ANYTHING, it doesn't matter if you have only 2 HP left and get hit for 20+, you're still going to survive another turn unless it has an added damage effect or you get attacked again.

      I think they sit in a good place right now. Not optimal, definitely, but useable. IW is pretty much the most boring antimaim and EP ended up being hurt by the need to have the purge ability for flavor reasons, as noted. The core book needs to have the simplest/most resonant genre conventions and abilities that sacrifice that for pure gameplay reasons are second priority.

      That is not to say those don't have a place, variant abilities that are similar to those in core but not identical can add on to the expansion's pagecount. I mean, why not?

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  10. Also.
    Can you bypass the one instance of weapon with superior morphing? You assign the same weapon to the two sets to have two instances. Might need "make two different sets of"

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    1. Okay that's another potential exploit caught for the inevitable online troubleshooting FAQ down the road. (No, it is not meant to let you do that, and arguably you can't really do it even with superior morphing buuut might as well be clear and write it out somewhere)

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  11. Also
    Page 49 miracle description has PP instead of CP

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    1. Oh for the love of - WHY IS THAT THING STILL THERE!? THE SAME PARAGRAPH SAYS CP TWICE WHY IS PP A THING!?

      Cue angry fist-shaking.

      Overreaction aside, I find it pretty safe to say this one letter change won't fuck up the whole layout of the softcover/hardcover versions so this'll be in a v.1.0000000001 update at some point in these next two weeks.

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