Aug 14, 2016

BCG Retrospective XVI: Champion Powers

Champion Powers do a lot of the work of carrying the super robot fighting spirit of the game's tone. If you take nothing but these, your super attacks will split the heavens and atomic bombs will be like mosquito bites to you. These are the powers you take to roleplay a badass who always wins their fights and they should make you feel like one. Let's see if they do that, hmm?

Believe in Myself
This is a power that was relatively weak but kept getting buffed to keep up with the Upgrades that also negate Maiming. Balancing all these antimaim abilities was by far the most difficult aspect of the rules from a development perspective. Believe in Myself is very strong if you can finish the battle in those three turns, but if you can't then you're better off with the Upgrades themselves. Three turns is a lot, especially if you already lost one or two HP bars, so the downside will rarely matter. Perhaps the effect should have been for two turns, but overall the power is more or less in the right place.

I Cannot be Defeated
Arguably the most suparobo power of them all, because you can tank pretty much everythin out there, particularly good against beamspam builds that stack Advantages. It is very powerful, but has two obvious weaknesses Just make sure it is not a tech or doesn't do bonus damage after the attack. This is a 10/10 Genre Power.

I'm Breaking Through
A clean, elegant design and a powerful effect. It seems a little weak compared to Signature Weapon until you realize two things: 1) Barriers often block 5+ Damage from each attack and 2) There are very few repeatable offensive powers. This power does more damage over time than Signature Weapon, but it does need more Genre Points, making it better for builds at Levels 2 and above.

My Defense is Impregnable
Another very strong defensive power. Defensive powers like this and I Cannot be Defeated have effects that can easily tank attacks that would be lethal to anyone else. In general, defensive powers are stronger than their offensive counterparts, because there's more offensive buffs to go around than defensive buffs. Glass cannon builds are very strong vs Grunts and certain Bosses, but Rivals with more than one defensive power can completely stonewall them until they run out of gas. It can't be used more than once, but it does work against all sorts of Weapons. It is not a 10/10, but it is a 9, and that's more than good enough.

My Style is Impetuous
Four Damage once per Operation is not a lot, except it is more like eight Damage with a Technique and a ton of automatic area Damage with Bombardment. The interaction isn't spelled out because players like feeling smart and figuring things out for themselves. By alluding to it, everyone can have the lightbulb moment themselves. Fun fact: The names of both this and the power above are Mike Tyson quotes made anime-relevant by way of the videogame God Hand.

Signature Weapon
Signature Weapon has the most raw strength of all the offensive Powers in the core book with a limitation that is very in-genre. It was the first of the offensive power set to be written and the one that the others got balanced around, much like Try Again but at a smaller scale. It is also probably the most popular Power overall, so it is obviously doing something right. This is another top tier power, and although it is very flavorful, I think it could be better.

In the last post I mentioned that, because the Character sheet is mostly irrelevant to Operations, Genre Powers had to have as much personality and be as unique and distinctive from each other as possible. Signature Weapon has a very flavorful name, but the effect is just so... Generic. It does +5 Damage and ignores Active Defenses. It turned out this way because I needed at least one offensive power that could be a very powerful effect available to most builds, so that the Signature Weapon could be a lowly Beam Rifle if that's what you wanted your Signature Weapon to be. That's what the power does.

The problem there is the name "Signature Weapon" evokes a Technique-like feeling, so a part of me wishes this was a Tension bonus... But then you'd be punished with a subpar build for having a Signature Weapon without an ability that depends on Tension bonuses! Maybe it could also turn non-Techniques into Techniques just for one attack? But then it would turn be very wordy and the elegance of this power is one of its draws.

At the same time, this was always a popular and effective power, so there was never any real need to change it. Time passed, development turned to focus on different things, and Signature Weapon got to print without any tweaks or rewrites. The power itself is evidently fine, I am just nitpicking the design.

Anyway, our six Champion Powers are some of the game's best and tightest designs in my opinion. There's very little I would change about them, which doesn't mean they couldn't be better, but it does mean they get the job done of making PCs badasses without significant balance or comprehension issues. All in all, I'm rather pleased with them.

Next: Trickster Powers.

Gimmick Out.

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