Aug 21, 2016

BCG Retrospective XVII: Trickster Powers

Trickster Powers are some of the most unique ones in the game. The Powers in other categories are, mostly, fairly straightforward power-ups offensively or defensively. Other Powers ramp up the heroic elements of the game, taking something that PCs are already good at (fighting) and making them great at it. Trickster Powers are instead about enabling quirky builds and facilitating nonstandard strategies. Trickster Powers are rarer than others, especially in comparison to the ever-popular Champion Powers. They'll probably be picked only by PCs that need them to make their builds work or as one of the final Powers to round out a build with extra utility value or a flavorful ability.

Come at Me Bro
One of the problems with resilient frontliner PCs in RPGs is that they usually have trouble making enemies want to attack them instead of butchering the glass cannons in the back. All too often, they can take it much better than they can dish it out, and that results in ineffective tanks. BCG doesn't have dedicated tanks, except for the pure defense builds that use Guardian of Steel, and instead makes tanking more of a secondary ability for PCs that are competent already offensively and defensively. A good example of this are builds using The Beast, which want to be attacked in order to power themselves up. The reach of 5 Zones came about because at one point you could easily make a sniper who would attack safely from very far away, getting lots of free attacks every Turn. I think this power was somewhat weak before but it is in a good place now, after the expansion made frontliner distraction PCs way better at their jobs.

Gotta go Fast
This one is primarily for the Boosted Lance chargers and the Reversible Thruster kiters, for whom an extra 5 Zones per Turn can make or break a battle. It is a very simple Power with some personality to it (especially with the memetic name), making it attractive to PCs that want a focus on speed and... That's it, really. It gets the job done so there's not much to say about it. I do think that maybe it could have been a slightly little bit stronger, perhaps applying a Disadvantage to attacks against the user for one Round? Something like that could have made it slightly more attractive to take for builds that aren't all about Speed.

My Pain is your Pain
This is most likely going to reflect around 5 Damage or so once per Operation, which is okayish for a way to hurt NPCs without having to make any rolls. In hindsight, we might have played it a little too safe and this could have afforded to be stronger. I think this would have been fine (and much cooler) if it could be used more than once per fight or, even better, once per fight but mirroring the full Damage back to the source. It is still a good Power, and a fine 3rd to 5th pick for anybody who expects to be under fire regularly (read: everyone who isn't sniping), so it wasn't a terrible miscalculation or anything. A passing grade.

Take One for the Team
I think this one ended up a little weak, because transferring Damage without reducing any of it is hardly worth a Genre Point. The reasoning was that it wouldn't be much of a sacrifice for the user if they got to step in and take a bullet for someone else only to shrug it off. I didn't want this to end up being accidentally better than the defensive Powers though, so I opted to give it a small debuffing effect and allow it to be spammable, thus making it combo with the defensive Champion Powers. The debuff effect could have been stronger (let's say 2 Disadvantages to be in line with similar effects in the expansion) but this was probably never going to be a first pick Power anyway.

The Tacticool Approach
Probably the most niche Power in the core rules. It makes Systems builds better at straight up combat, which is probably more of a Plan B for them since they're most likely going to want to spam Supports, Restorations, or Guardian of Steel the rest of the time. It's a good Plan B though, Electro Sapper Pods and Electronic Cloaking System are very powerful with Systems at 8 and above. On one hand, I think this could be stronger so as to possibly make direct combat a possible Plan A for Systems-primary builds. On the other hand, that's not the point of Systems, and pushing the game in that direction more could have caused balance issues and made Systems the most versatile and strongest stat all around. Systems builds got a lot stronger in the expansion, so this is probably fine as is and doesn't need to be better.

Trump Card
A deceptively strong Power, granting two unmaimable Weapons once per Operation. That might not seem like much, but the ability to choose whichever Weapon is best at the time and be able to count on it sticking around for the rest of the battle is easily worth one Genre Point. Why, you can even take this as your first Power and use only Weapons gained this way, cheating an Integrated Weapons Upgrade into your build at a reduced price. It's a cool build-around Power that doesn't look like much at first glance but gets a lot of work done for very little.

One of the subtlest game balance mechanisms in Trickster Powers is that they make or break many of the builds that use them. For PCs (and Rivals) this means that they need to be taken relatively early or else the build won't tank/kite/whatever properly. For Grunts, however, it means they just can't do those things very well. This is intentional, because these abilities can be very annoying in the hands of Grunts. Imagine swarms of Grunt Mecha taunting and keeping PCs aggro-locked to them. That would suck to play against. Overall, some of the Trickster Powers could stand to be a little stronger, but most of them are the kind of thing that is better off being a little weak than too strong, as they would bog the game down with supertanks and untouchable snipers if that were the case. If it isn't broken then don't fix it, I guess.

Next: Tactician Powers.

Gimmick Out.

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