Sep 4, 2016

BCG Retrospective XIX: Areas & Maiming.

We're finally at the Mecha chapter part of this retrospective, but Before we get started on Upgrades, there's one more mechanic that comes before then: Areas & Maiming.

The mental image of mechs losing limbs and continuing the fight is a very strong visual. It also adds a strategic element to the game, making you think about where to assign your toys. You also get to customize the flavor of the Areas themselves, you don't have to stick to Head/Torso/Arms/Legs, which helps represent things like spaceships. It is a very cool system in theory.

The problem with the Areas/Maiming system is that losing one or more Upgrades/Weapons is a devastating setback when you're already behind in the damage race. Losing your active defenses or your best guns means whoever gets an early lead will probably win. If the game didn't have baked in mechanics to counter this then the gameplay would be very frustrating.

High Level PCs are so powerful they can take out 2-3 Levels of one Enemy at a time. Without antimaim abilities like Integrated Weapons and Invincible Alloy, the game would be a mess at Power Levels 4 and 5. On top of that, GMs have to deal with the added fiddliness of tracking the condition of multiple NPCs's limbs. Many Features mitigate or nullify Maiming to help with this. The Areas/Maiming system comes with a lot of problems.

But it is very flavorful and low Power Level combat  when people don't have reliable antimaims yet is intense. It really does make you feel like you're a glorified grunt piloting a robot made of explodium. I would have hated to lose that feel. The game already had many ways to make the Mazingers and Getters feel like super robots, it needed something for the Scopedogs and Zakus. The result is that the game feels a bit schizophrenic with its pulling in different directions.

I think it works out fine enough in the end. But I've been wrong before, so I'd like to know what you think. Maiming system: Hate it or love it? Do you play "hard mode" without antimaims or do you buy antimaims ASAP? Do you prefer less extreme variants such as Power Suit? I want to know what you think. To this end, GimmickLabs now premieres its double polling technology! Science has come far indeed.

Next: Upgrades.

Gimmick Out.

5 comments:

  1. The other mecha system I know of with maiming is CAMELOT Trigger -- and I'll admit I think that such a system works better in a more narrative system like FATE: in that system, limbs function as Stunts, so while you lose enhanced capability, you don't lose core capability as you can in BCG.

    Overall, I like the Areas system, but I'm not sure the game design wants you to like it. As you've mentioned, antimaims are available in many venues and it's so critical to have a way out of being Maimed since your build may as well just flat out stop functioning. There are also many ways to build characters around needing things in Areas (such as External Pack, or having a lot of Separate and Internal Upgrades).

    As such, how Maiming feels to me in BCG is a challenge that needs to be overcome due to its potentially gameplan-ending nature. It's not so much a resource that you expect will deplete over time so much as an outcome that you want to prevent.

    I've yet to really begin my campaign, but I'm going into it advising my players to at least consider the ramifications of Maiming -- i.e. at least taking Believe in Myself, since I feel like one of the frustrations a new player could experience in BCG is making something they think is cool, then getting it dismantled and not being able to function.

    More feedback as we play more with the system.

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  2. You can actually make perfectly viable builds without antimaims. Hard mode game without antimaims can be great fun too.

    It's a interesting system that has a lot of flavor.

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  3. Good posts both. I'm glad that the general reaction so far is that it is a system feature and not a bug.

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  4. Talking about anti-maiming, one very relevant consideration is the Design Flaw, Precious Snowflake. ... as you said, anti-maim becomes crucial at higher power levels. Which my group hasn't reached yet. But, for our current power level 1, I feel like Precious Snowflake is well worth losing anti maim options (which I don't have the resources to buy ANYWAY), and getting +30 MP... ... ... from what you say though, it sounds like this is all going to come back and bite me in the ass once we reach power level 4 or so...

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    1. It is playable, and with proper distribution of upgrades/weapons plus smart use of active defenses you can mitigate most of its problems.

      But sometimes you just lose like half of your upgrades and weapons during the first turn and that sucks.

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