Not all giant robots attack their enemies directly. Heck, some of them don't even attack enemies at all! Support Upgrades represent those rare mecha, as well as enabling a different style of gameplay for players who like having more decisions to make every Turn. Some Support Upgrades are buffs, some are debuffs, others do one-off weird things and a few even let the user do a moderate amount of damage to a single target with an indirect attack.
The problem with supports was balancing them. They had to be about as good as weapons, but slightly worse, so by default they cost an Action to use and needed resupplying for repeated use. The way they were first written, Support builds had half their current range and needed to use most of their actions resupplying themselves and spending energy to use one of them at the beginning of the turn. It was too expensive in terms of MP to be worth playing at low power levels and only seemed worth the trouble against bosses.
It was then that Commander Type got split into two separate Upgrades, one of which resupplied the cheaper Supports after use. This made support builds a lot more fun to play, and at 9 energy you could then engage in double-support Action every Turn. Full-support builds got a lot more fun then, but they still had some issues with being a little too frail and weak compared to weapon specialists. Doubled range for all Support Upgrades gave them a little bit more of tactical flexibility and fixed most of the problem.
Even after all this, they were still a little weak at times, so one of the first Upgrades written for BCZ was Power Conversion to help them make use of Tension as a resource. I believe BCZ made the various support builds some of the best in the game, so I'm quite content with how they turned out.
Most Upgrades in BCG are self-contained and don't refer to other rules in the book, but Assisted Targeting outright tells you to go look up the Aiming rules rather than just spelling them out. This has three benefits: First, it reminds people to familiarize themselves with the different kinds of Actions available. Second: It serves as a balance mechanism to keep this and similar abilities from stacking Advantages. Third: It grants synergy with Long Range weapons, most obviously the Sniper Rifle. This is probably the strongest of the 5-cost Supports. This should not be a surprise, as it basically lets you grant someone eles (or yourself) an extra Action, and that's very powerful.
Most builds have the exact amount of energy they need to use their stuff, so giving them extra energy doesn't help that much. But sometimes energy is halved or you want to set up a sick Jury Rig or Boost Power. Overcharge helps you do those things. It's okay, definitely one of the least useful of the bunch, but it has a place.
It's like Assisted Targeting, but with the Suppress Action instead! The second strongest after Assisted Targeting, only because it is slightly harder to exploit. If there had been more Weapons designed around the use of Suppression/Crippling this could easily have been different though, because it's a really strong effect! Much like with Assisted Targeting, multiple suppression effects on the same attack do not stack, Suppressing with a Crippling Weapon is wasting Damage.
Supply Delivery is one of the best Supports from a design standpoint. Delivering extra ammo makes sense as the kind of thing you'd be able to do. Its only problem is that this is a game that generally doesn't care about ammo, but for the builds that do care about ammo this is a very strong effect. It also enables builds going all-in on single-shot weapons too, which is really cool.
This is another one I'm fond of. The name, rules and flavor blend perfectly into something that is really cool and most games don't pull off. It is also very good, though it has an obvious weakness in flight-capable units or those with Absolute Barrier. Still really good for a support-oriented character though, just mind your melee-minded allies. Fun fact: You can use this to kite melee specialists. You can even Boost away while doing so thanks to Commander Type! How's that for a trapmaster character?
Saturation fire and other forms of calling for allied firepower are very flavorful and iconic, but Grunt swarms are supposed to be the weakness of Support builds. It took some juggling of the numbers but I think Airstrike ended up being juuust good enough without being better than, say, Blast Weapons. What makes it stick are the extreme range and the freedom to position yourself optimally when using it.
A good candidate for best debuff in the game available to PCs. This is brutal against anyone who relies on energy, particularly beamspam builds. This originally only halved Energy and there was a Genre Power that turned Energy spent into Damage. Neither the Upgrade nor the Power were all that good on their own, so they got combined into this devastating debuff. It can render bosses without a backup weapon obsolete and Grunts with it are a borderline unfair tactic vs PCs. Looking at it that way, perhaps it is a little too strong, but I'd rather have it be this way than not give PCs any silver bullets against high-energy builds.
The other candidate for best debuff in the game. I believe this originally created Difficult Terrain and halved Guard as a side effect, but got streamlined to halving two stats fairly quick. This is much more straightforward in making one Enemy easier to beat up than Electromagnetic Detonator and is a lifesaver against builds that rely on Maneuver bonuses to defense, most of which use Speed and bump up Systems at higher Power Levels. The part about making targets lose the ability to fly was added late in development for flavor reasons and to make it synergize better with Surprise Minefield.
Fire at Will
Before BCZ, Fire at Will was used to represent Remote Weapons - funnels, bits, incoms and all the others. Proper remote weapons that could be deployed, moved and targeted separately from your own unit were requested frequently enough that I ended up writing them anyway. As for the Upgrade itself, it is an okay way to hit a Boss or Rival with high Defenses or flight for a good amount (between 5 and 8, assuming an optimized high-systems build) of Damage.
This Upgrade was always a Blast for flavor reasons, and that meant making the debuff effect weaker than if it was a single target debuff. While it works okay as is, and the large area of effect guarantees it will weaken a good number of enemies considerably, I now wonder if it should have been a single target debuff that also denied Tension for a Round or something along those lines.
Supports are in a good place right now but it took a lot of work to get them there. The problem was always the same: BCG is a very streamlined game where you have one Action per Turn. Supports would have worked better as some kind of secondary Action you can take in addition to an attack, rather than a replacement for the attack itself. They were buffed a whole bunch of times and received enough new toys in the expansion that their power level is no longer a concern, but in hindsight the whole thing looks to me like I was trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. If I were to rework them, I'd probably make them use your systems stat as ammo like Restorations do, instead of forcing a resupply effect after each use - rebalancing them as appropriate in the process.
Next: Extra Areas.