Nov 27, 2016

BCG Retrospective XXXI: Shooting Weapons

Compared to their Melee brothers and sisters, Shooting Weapons have greater range and a higher attack power ceiling, but their attack power floor is usually lower and they aren't as good at controlling enemies. They are their best when they can take advantage of the easier positioning and greater attack power, as such the best guns are those that can attack multiple enemies at once and the ones with single-target power.

Unlike with Melee Weapons, which naturally synergize with both of the things they're good at; Multitarget guns tend to do less damage than single-target guns. Shooting Weapons are more versatile than Melee ones by default, which means a specialist needs to invest more MP if they want to do both things well. This leads to Shooting specialists usually being some sort of 'glass cannon' build sacrificing toughness for firepower.

By complete coincidence, this means they get along really well with Melee specialists who like to use the Duel mechanic. And "by complete coincidence", I actually mean "by design".

Let's see how the ten core Shooting Weapons hold up:

Anti-Air Missiles
We start with Anti-Air Missiles, a Weapon that is VERY strong but conditional in who it is strong against. It's okay when Terrain plays a big role in the game (and, thus, so does the ability to fly over said Terrain) but this is a Weapon that is at its best when taken via Trump Card when you spot flying Enemies. When buffed with an Aim bonus and against a flying target, this thing has four Advantages to the attack roll, which is very silly amount for a Weapon without any drawbacks - not even an energy cost. Of course, its problem is that it's only barely better than the Vulcans against grounded targets (or those underwater/in space). This is a weakness that is difficult to plan around, but you can still work with it using Frames to switch it with a more useful gun when the Terrain is inappropriate. It's also a Weapon that deals with something most others don't: Environments. Its existence implicitly tells GMs with an adventurous spirit that they can homebrew guns suited to specific environments and how those abilities can be balanced. The Torpedoes in the expansion are a more obvious example, but Anti-Air Missiles still do their share of the work. I think this is an okay Weapon in that it is very setting-dependent but is also a total powerhouse for Trump Card optimizers.

Assault Rifle
The Assault Rifle is the most basic and all-around gun in the game. It is not powerful, but it is useful and lacks weaknesses. If you find yourself shooting into Duels often and don't want to use Suppress or buy Expert Support, this is a more reliable alternative to Crippling Weapons which often have big drawbacks. The long maximum range helps push it to being the generalist Weapon of choice. It benefits quite a bit from Aiming, not as much as a Sniper Rifle, but Assisted Targeting can make it deal decent Damage. All in all, it is an okay Weapon, certainly better than several of the Melee options, but like I said last week you usually want more than okay.

Used as is, Bombardment is strong. When buffed, Bombardment is strong as hell. When buffed and resupplied consistently, Bombardment is borderline unfair and you'll be glad it doesn't have long range because the relatively short range is its only weakness. Bombardment is, essentially, an area of effect Technique that can be spammed until the end of the world if you build around it... Which is honestly kind of insane. You don't know what fear is until you've seen a horde of Grunts, all of them carrying this gun. Bombardments fall, everyone dies. Perhaps the automatic Damage should have been equal to your Power Level, instead of equal to Tension? That way it wouldn't be a Blast Missile Massacre (but better) and Grunts with it wouldn't be a red alert of a potential team wipe incoming.

Electro-Sapper Pods
In theory, this is like Boosted Lance for ranged attackers but with a few tweaks to make it different. In practice, this needs very high Systems and constant ressupplying, which in Turn means high Energy and a build that can use a Support and attack in the same Turn. The problem here is that those builds don't have much MP left to raise their Might, and if your Might isn't high then the Damage bonus from having high Systems is kind of pointless. So is this a bad Weapon? Not quite, it just needs a bit of system mastery to make it work. In a pure Support build, you can use The Tacticool Approach to bump your Might from 0 to 8-10 and then shoot this thing at someone. Preferably with Assisted Targeting active to help it stick. It's not a spammable move, but it is a more reliable source of Damage than Surprise Minefield for most Support builds. It's not another Boosted Lance, which is what it really wants to be, but it has its niche and that earns it a passing grade.

Missile Massacre
Everything I said about Zweihander last week also applies to Missile Massacre. Let's move on...

Rail Bazooka
A Blast with Long Range is an amazing combination, making this the one Shooting Weapon that combines well with Assisted Targeting, Sniper Model and Artillery Frame for lots of Damage to an absurd amount of targets each time it is used. It's slow, so you can't snipe multiple targets with it every single turn, but you can still use a Sniper Rifle, Bombardment, Riot Weapon or Resonance Cannon the rest of the time depending on your build. Rail Bazooka is the bread and butter of glass cannon non-Beam builds and one of the best Shooting Weapons in the game.

Resonance Cannon
Strong, but not too much, and prone to missing. What makes Resonance Cannon worth taking is You Can Do Better Than That which makes it autosucceed on the attack roll and does an extra bit of Damage to boot. It's not hard to use the Tension bonus to push into an Enemy's last Threshold Level and let the special ability destroy them. It's also very dangerous in the hands of Grunt swarms who, with Paired Attack and a little bit of luck, can take down one or two Threshold Levels per attack. The tactical application and combo potential adds up to a pretty decent Weapon overall.

Riot Weapon
Riot Weapon is a decent fallback for builds with Artillery Frame and Sniper Model against short range targets. It doesn't have any drawbacks and it is easy to aim it so that it doesn't hurt your allies. I think it would be cooler if it had Slow (because reloading) and an innate Advantage or two to compensate, but it is honestly a very solid pick for anyone who wants an option against Squadron Grunts or other NPCs with Blasts, Bursts and Lines as a weakness.

Sniper Rifle
It's a very good option at low Power Levels when spending a Turn Aiming is well worth the +6 attack bonus, it drops in power around the midgame when specialists can do comparable Damage without spending a Turn for it and gets better again at high Level play when you can guarantee yourself some Assisted Targeting buffs. Alternatively, you can take the self-Support package ASAP and make a glass cannon build. It's comparable to Powered Rifle, but the versatility of using Supports on yourself also lets you Supply Delivery + Bombardment or Support Fire + Superheavy Machinegun. And speaking of Superheavy Machinegun...

Superheavy Machinegun
It's like a Stun Rod but it can't be used in a Duel and it can hit multiple targets, so it is... Not very much like Stun Rod at all! It is worse at controlling targets, which a Melee Weapon is going to be obviously better at, but it can contribute to said control from a distance and even hit multiple enemies. The lack of mobility makes positioning it for a proper attack somewhat difficult and Unreliable means it will sometimes miss, which is a problem, but this Weapon cares less about doing Damage and more about applying a debuff so all it needs to do is hit. Assisted Targeting helps, moreso than with most Shooting Weapons, because the range bonus and the extra Advantages alleviate both of its issues and help make Superheavy Machinegun shine. If you already have your targets lined up and aren't worried about missing, Support Fire will make this thing hit for its full Damage and applying a very tough multitarget debuff.

Shooting Weapons in core BCG are stronger than Melee Weapons. They just have more build and optimization options: You can build a Sniper Model with okay attack power and strong defenses. A Sniper Model with Artillery Frame to blast Grunt hordes. A Sniper Model with Supports to Snipe, Bombard and Cripple as necessary. And that's just the really obvious options. I think this is the best of the three Weapon armories in core.

But that's what I think. What about you? Which Shooting Weapons do you like to use to make robots explode with? If you're more of a Beam Rifle kind of person, we'll get to them next week.

Gimmick Out.

Nov 20, 2016

BCG Retrospective XXX: Melee Weapons.

This isn't just Retrospective Update #30, it is also GimmickLabs Post #100! Yay for regular blogging! This series has been helpful for giving me ideas and I hope you find it as interesting to read as I do to write. Now, on to Update XXX's subject: Weapon porn for super robots - no drills edition.

Melee Weapons are the most dependent on good positioning (a Default range of 1 does that to you) but are also the ones that make best use of the Dueling mechanic. Most of them are designed with Duels in mind, which means that they're at their best when keeping an opponent locked down or doing as much Damage as possible making use of the extra Advantage from Dueling. The other Melee Weapons have to compensate for a Melee specialist's weaknesses: range and crowd control, which, well, they don't quite pull it off for the most part. Let's see how our ten core examples do:

Arm Guardian
We start with a Weapon that, I think, is a little on the weak side. Arm Guardian will make it harder for the enemy to hit you once you manage to hit them. On paper, it is a decent fit for duelists that want to be more on the tanky than the DPS side of their melee specialization. The problem is that it doesn't have any other attack bonuses, so it will miss against targets with a strong Active Defense, thus failing to grant its Defense bonus to the user. Its other problem is that the Defense bonus makes the enemy want to target your allies rather than you, which goes against the idea of playing a tanky duelist in the first place. A higher Defense boost (Maybe 4? Or perhaps even 5?) or an in-built attack advantage with a drawback to compensate (Like Slow or Unreliable) would have made this a more attractive weapon, I believe. It is not bad, mind. It is just okay, because it grants a minimally decent upside and has no significant drawbacks, but you generally want more than "okay" for your PCs.

Boosted Lance
One of the most interesting and powerful Weapons in the game. It starts out strong, then synergistic movement bonuses from Powers and Upgrades make it devastating. You have to build for mobility and most  debuffs in the game will hit you there, but you can also build to counter said debuffs with Antigravity, Slippery Chassis and Mind Over Matter. Boosted Lance's real weakness is that it doesn't actually play well with Duels, because being stuck in place hurts you more than it will hurt your opponent, so you need Slippery Chassis ASAP. It all adds up to a build that needs tons of Powers, Upgrades and Weapons (like the Rocket Sword) not just to synergize with it it but also to cover its weaknesses. I think it is a little too strong at high levels when all the pieces come together, but at that point nearly all optimized specialist builds are sort of busted in their own way and need hard counters to keep them in check, so I don't think it is that bad. I really like it.

Chainblade is a strong Weapon with a drawback that gives it a random chance of doing less Damage than CQC, making it somewhat hard to use properly. The primary reason to use it is the synergy with Tension bonuses. Assuming you can keep the Unreliable ability from screwing you over, Chainblade is a repeatable Technique, and that's very powerful. An extra advantage, from Duelist Model or Versatile Model, plus an occassional use of Try Again should be enough to maximize your odds of rolling evens. I really like how this one turned out too.

Stun Rod
Works well for debuff and tank builds, sacrificing attack power to weaken the target. But it doesn't really shine until you use it with Support Fire, Formation G or Fight Smarter. The Crippling buff allows Stun Rod to do its full Damage while applying a rather strong debuff. This "Crippling Rod" has also great synergy with the Duel mechanic, locking down an Enemy and debuffing them until they defeat you or somehow pull away, which is not easy because Crippling hurts attack and mobility both. It's a solid Weapon and I think having designs like it, unassuming but really nasty when buffed, is good for the game.

Dueling Blade
It's a 1v1 Melee Weapon that pretty much has a free Advantage to most of its Tests. Yeah, it is good. The big problem is that sometimes things die too quick for it to be of use. The rest of the time? You initiate with something else (like say, a Hook Launcher or Boosted Lance) and then ride the free drawbackless Advantage to victory. For specialists, it has a lower Damage ceiling than Chainblade but it also needs less setup and doesn't melt down into a puddle when you take a debuff to Tension. For generalists, it is probably the most reliable Melee Weapon there is - just let the Grunts and Rivals be the ones to Engage then make a pincushion out of them.

Finger Net
With a very short range, a meh area of effect and lack of synergy with anything else that Duelists are supposed to be good at, this Weapon's saving grace is its single shot debuff... And what a debuff it is! It doesn't just halve Guard and Speed (a fairly strong effect before you add the Damage from the attack roll on top), it does so until the end of your next Turn. This can be exploited with the Delay Action to make your next Turn end after everyone else's, thus making the debuff last essentially two full Rounds. This is not an intended rules interaction, but the exploit wasn't noticed before going to print, probably because it is the only debuff in the game to work this way. So why doesn't this effect last one Round like nearly every other effect in the game does? Because new players were always disappointed they couldn't take advantage of the debuff in a 1v1 scenario. When something you design is always being misinterpreted, maybe you should change the way it works. With that said, I don't dislike the change in a vacuum. If not for the aforementioned exploit, I'd consider the "Until the end of your next Turn" wording an upgrade to use in the future in place of "for one Round". Anyway, this is the only Weapon available to PCs that halves two Attributes, so it's an okay 3rd or 4th pick for debuff-oriented or Artillery Frame builds. Exploitability aside, I think it is good.

Jackhammer Stake
This one is... Okay, much like Guardian Arm. It is fairly strong if you can replenish it constantly with Supply Delivery. The problem is that you could also be adding Aim or Crippling bonuses to your attacks for the same cost which are generally stronger. You could also just Supply Delivery a Weapon with a more useful secondary effect, like Bombardment. The idea of a Weapon that can be 'spent' for an useful buff to the attack roll is cool but this probably needed to have a different buff than just Damage for a single target attack. Barrier Piercing would have probably been a good idea.

Rocket Punch
Compared to Shooting Weapons, Rocket Punch has a base +2 to maximum range helps, but that's not enough to compensate for the higher base range that real guns get. Thus, as a ranged option, Rocket Punch is exclusively for Duelist Model users who want range without spending any Energy for it. It's okay as is, but I don't like that one of the most iconic super robot weapons is a weak and niche option. If I were to redo it, Rocket Punch would have Slow (because it takes a while for the fists to come back) and have an innate Advantage to the Test or something like that to give it an edge.

Whirlwind Attack
Whirlwind Attack is a very, very strong crowd control option. It's like an area of effect Assassin Blade with Slow. That alone makes it great for duelists and generalists alike. But it also shines as an excellent short range option for Artillery Frame builds, which usually would rather stay far away from the enemy but might need to clear a mob invading their personal space every now and then. That's kind of really good and shows how strong all the Burst Weapons are.

Oh man, poor Zweihander. Zweihander suffers from me overestimating Tension modifiers and underestimating how bad it is when you fail to kill the enemy with it. The game sped up a lot during its development months and both Zweihander & Missile Massacre failed to keep up with the other Weapons that kept getting faster. As is, it is underpowered. The Technician Upgrades in BCZ make it a solid, near-unbeatable 1v1 option. It needs the setup, but the payoff is powerful.

Melee Weapons in core BCG are strong and offer some interesting build options. They lack in utility value until BCZ however, so there's just not that many ways to build a pure Duelist without any other gimmicks. Still a strong, interesting and fun build though! The added Upgrades and Weapons help but I think core BCG Melee specialists are playable as is.

Also, new poll! Which Melee Weapons do you give your robots? Have any favorites? I'm leaving the Melee Beam ones for a later poll, obviously.

Next: Shooting Weapons

Gimmick Out.

Nov 13, 2016

BCG Retrospective XXIX: Default Weapons & Weapon Keywords

Weapons only have five pages but each of those is packed tight with text and there's a lot to talk about. This update will cover the first two pages, so grab a sandwich because it is the longest in a while.

Default Weapons
BCG is a game where PCs lose the guns they use to attack as combat goes on, so I wanted to give everyone access to two unmaimable Default Weapons they can use when all others are disabled. Said Weapons suffer a Disadvantage to all attacks, because they needed to have a drawback of some kind in order to make people actually buy the other Weapons. At first mechs only had CQC, but they got Vulcans later to give them a little more flexibility. In case you're wondering, the CQC system is a reference to Metal Gear Solid while Vulcans are a reference to Mobile Suit Gundam.

Melee & Shooting
Melee is easier to get at least one Advantage with than Shooting, but Shooting can get more of them and is also more flexible. The Melee ability is slightly weaker, which is why Melee Weapons are pushed with stronger special abilities and Sniper Model had an inherent range-based weakness to it. Further adding to this disbalance, Shooting Weapons used to gain the range bonus that Long Range Weapons now get from Aiming. This made some of them, like Superheavy Machinegun and Bombardment, even stronger than they already are. Both types are more balanced with each other now.

Beams have more of a story to them. One of the coolest things about Beams to me is the idea of an adjustable power output, leading to what you know as the Boost mechanic. So my concept for them is simple: They get stronger when you pump energy into them. The problem with this idea is that "they're like other guns except stronger" makes for bad game balance. At one point there were four different versions of the Beam mechanic running around, listed below:

First Version - Beam Weapons Cost 10 instead of 5 and you may spend an amount of Energy up to the number between parentheses when using a Beam Weapon, increasing the result of the Might Test by the amount spent. These were really badly balanced. At low PLs the cost was too high and at high PLs you wanted to discard your other guns and replace them with Beams. Flavorful, but not good game design.

Second Version - You may spend as much Energy as you want when using a Beam Weapon, increasing the result of the Might Test by half the amount spent. The variable Energy cost meant the mechanic was great at high PLs for all-in attackers but rarely worth the investment otherwise, because 4 Energy for a +2 to Might is just a really bad deal all around. The worst thing about this mechanic was the lack of individual energy costs for all Weapons, which made designing just 5-6 of them more of a challenge than it should have been.

Third Version - Beam Weapons have an Energy cost between parentheses you must pay when using them, but increase the result of your Might Test by the same amount. These had very high attack power for their cost, with their only real drawback being that they need Energy in order to be used at all. Because that's hardly a complication at all if you've built your Mecha competently, every single one of these Weapons needed to have a strong drawback to compensate for their raw power. This made them very, very difficult to work with, because they were still almost always better than non-Beams and there's only so many good drawbacks for Beams to go around before you start to give everything Slow and Overheating.

Final Version - Beam Weapons have an optional Energy cost between parentheses you can pay for to grant them an Advantage to their Might Test. This is very close to what the game ended up going with. The mechanic was easy to work with from my end. For players, paying the extra cost gave you a bonus but wasn't critical to using them, you almost always wanted to pay it, but sometimes it wasn't worth doing so, adding tactical value. I call this the final version but it's technically near-final. The only thing that changed after adopting these was forcing an innate cost of 1 Energy to all Beams, reducing the Boost cost by 1 to compensate for it. The rules effect is very small so the change was mostly for flavor reasons.

Beams took a lot of playtesting and also polling to make sure people liked the changes to them. They work so well now that it is hard to think this was the case, and I'm glad they did.

Blast, Burst & Line
These three are sort of their own weapon subtype like Beams, since many abilities in the game care about whether a Weapon attacks single targets or has an area of effect. It's usually a good idea to have one or two in case you face massed Grunts or a Boss that is near immune to single-target attacks. Other than that, the three types are very different. Blasts are the Weapons that hit the most enemies and can usually do so from a reasonable distance, so they need the least effort in positioning to get a good return on your investment. Bursts require careful positioning if they're to hit more than one target and can't benefit from the Melee Dueling bonus Advantage when they do. Lastly, Lines have an easy time hitting two targets with each shot without hitting any allies, making them the most convenient.

Most Blast Weapons started as Blast (4) and would almost always hit everyone in the battlefield... Which was kind of excessive. The Blast mechanic stayed the same from beginning to end, but most of the weapons with it lost one or two zones' worth of radius during development. Bursts and Lines were a late addition to the keyword family, and at first abilities like Stealth Field referenced "Blasts and other area of effect weapons" which... Wasn't very elegant. Now I can just say Blasts, Bursts and Lines, and the keyword lets them be compatible with Artillery Frame. Overall, I think there is a decent balance between all of them. The one issue I'd say they have is that some of the Bursts ended up stronger than intended, because the keyword itself is kind of weak, so the Weapons themselves were given very strong abilities to compensate.

This was another late addition to the keyword list. While there's only one Crippling Weapon available to PCs in the core rules, enough things grant the bonus (Support Fire, G-Formation) to make it worth making a new keyword. I also knew at the time that there would be more Crippling Weapons in BCZ. Crippling is one of the strongest keywords, because Suppression has many useful effects, of which the most obvious is the Disadvantage to attacks. Focused fire with Crippling/Suppression transforms dangerous Bosses into speedbumps and the stacked mobility trigger will also force annoying targets that move all over the place to stay still or take a lot of Damage.

Long Range
One of the earliest and most obvious keywords I came up with. Many Weapons had 'Long Range' as their only ability for a long while, it took a while to finally buff all of them with some kind of secondary effect. They're still not the flashiest and most interesting Weapons around, but they're useful enough you can't go too wrong picking one of them.

Techniques are, to me, the mechanic that uses Tension the best. I knew from day 0 of design that they were going to work the way they do, and all other mechanics that use Tension were balanced around Techniques being the primary 'outlet' for it, so to speak. The one problem with this approach is that I made the regular non-Beam Techniques somewhat underpowered and it wasn't until BCZ's Technician Upgrades that they felt up to par with other optimized options. I still love the keyword though, it does a great job of conveying the feeling of a FINAL ATTACK.

One Shot
One Shot is another early ability like Long Range. BCG doesn't do ammo, either you can fire your Weapon until the end of time or only once, Jackhammer Stake excepted. This is an useful and flavorful drawback for some of the strongest Weapons in the game. It's a good mechanic, but I think most of the One Shot Weapons ended up a little too strong.

In theory you can alternate between using two similar Slow Weapons to end up with two Weapons slightly stronger than the norm without a drawback. In practice, there's only a handful of Slow Weapons and they're unique enough that doing so is hard. There's all of eight Slow Weapons available to PCs between BCG and BCZ, four of them are Beams and three have different Boost values. This was done purposefully in order to keep the drawback relevant.

Overheating & Unreliable
Both of these are the "big" drawbacks for Weapons of their respective subtypes (Beam & non-Beam). They are worth more or less the same as the One Shot drawback in terms of pricing, but unlike One Shot they can be slapped on Techniques to make the Weapon stronger.

While both of them are treated as if they were equivalent, Overheating is honestly a little bit stronger than Unreliable, because at least Overheating still goes through with a bad roll, the potential whiffing of Unreliable is a much worse fate. Overheating also usually has more Advantages to play with, because it goes on Beams, making the Overheating Weapons overall better than the Unreliable ones. Unreliable could have been less harsh, all things considered.

Thirteen is (Not) Enough
That's all thirteen core keywords... But there probably should have been more. A few mechanics come up often enough in Weapons that they should have been keyworded, in my opinion. Here's them below:

Aftershock - Passing the Might Test with this Weapon will destroy that Enemy’s current Level of Threshold. This happens after the Weapon deals its regular Damage.
Piercing - This Weapon ignores the effects of Active Defenses.
Subdual - This Weapon inflicts an additional Disadvantage when using the Suppress Action.
Immobile - You may not Move as part of your Actions when using this Weapon. If you’re unable to Move for whatever reason, you cannot use it.
Material - This would just be a tag for non-Beam Weapons. Because the constant reference to "non-Beam Weapons" in the rules didn't bother me at first but as of BCZ has started to irk me.

Adding the Remote keyword from BCZ to the list would give us a total of nineteen keywords. Keywords are an important tool to help people remember how rules work and to keep rules text descriptions short, but having too many keywords makes it difficult for new players to learn what any of the Weapons do. I think that 19 is a large number, certainly on the upper end of what I would be comfortable with, but it is not an overwhelming one.

We don't have to use all of them, we could just use one or two. Subdual is rare and the text is short anyway, Immobile is very rare, while Piercing has short rules text but is common to the point I'd still want it in. Aftershock is the only one I'd say should have always been a keyword, and should have had a few other things about it working differently as well. Material is just a tag, there is nothing to remember about it unless you run into Enemies that resist them.

Next: The poll I said last week that I would do today and also some more things I guess.

Gimmick Out.

Nov 6, 2016

BCG Retrospective XXVIII: Features

There are some genre conventions that, when converted to abilities, only make sense having a downside to go with their upside. The most obvious example are aquatic Mecha, which should outperform others in the water but underperform while on land. Features and their ilk could have costed MP and they could have had a stronger upside, but I think they're best this way. Not costing MP means they are easier to work into a build at low Power Levels, which is ideal for L0 Grunts. It also means the upsides and downsides have to be on equal footing, which is more a matter of aesthetics than one of pure rules, but it is nice all the same.

One thing that jumps at me from the description of Features is that the description for which ones should and should not be combined are very vague. The book takes for granted everyone will be aware that Flyer and Terrain Specialist (Land) is a combination that makes no sense and should not be allowed, but I've been asked by GMs how to challenge super-optimized PCs with this combination of Features. If I'd known, I would have made a sidebar on the subject.

Base Unit
Base units can represent either mobile battleships like those seen in Gundam, Nadesico or Yamato or stationary fortresses like those in... Nearly every super robot show there is. Special mention goes to Evangelion, which had the whole city of Neo Tokyo-3 contributing to the battles with tons of support structures. Base Units can harbor PCs inside, protecting them from harm and allowing them to switch Frames. The downside to having one of them around is that their destruction is a mission failure condition. I think this is a decent execution of the concept: You have a VIP Unit that is just as capable as everyone else's and provides some utility value, but can be overwhelmed like any other PC and thus must be protected.

The utility value of Docking can be a good way for PCs to avoid taking Damage for the first few Rounds while Tension builds up. Docked Units can even contribute to the battle and attack by exposing themselves to area attacks. Obviously, this needs the Base Unit to be bulky enough to withstand enough fire for at least 2 PCs and preferably mobile enough to avoid unfavorable Terrain conditions. The payoff is that when 2 or more PCs come out at full power they will make short work of the enemy while the Base Unit licks its wounds. It's risky, but when it works it does so very well.

The consequences of having your base unit destroyed are sidebar suggestions instead of having any concrete rules effect other than "you lose". On one hand that's kind of lazy, but one the other hand the rules effect being "You lost, now deal with the consequences." is much more effective than any kind of rules-based penalty. The combat is a vehicle for cool storytelling, after all. I suppose the sidebar could have been one or more pages of detailed suggestions but, at the time, that effort was better spent elsewhere.

Extreme Fortification
This is the Feature with the most impact. Halving all non-Might Test Damage is HUGE, but so is losing half your Energy. Some of the most dangerous Grunts will now be half as effective as they usually would be, Rivals will have several abilities be made near-useless and the most powerful Boss builds will be rendered to flailing helplessly this way. You're just as vulnerable to raw Might Tests as anyone else and having 2-4 less Energy to play with will make enduring super attacks much harder.

It's honestly kind of OP. You can combine it with Internal Fortification to cover your weakness to Might Tests and you're super durable at the cost of having a 2-3 Energy build. You can also make it part of a Transformation, using up all your energy at the beginning of your Turn, then switching to your Extreme Fortification form. Next Turn you'll be forced to start with half your Energy before you can do any tricks, but if you switch to another form you can repeat the energy trick your next Turn. It's kind of silly and tells me that maybe the drawback should have been something else, but I'm not sure what it could have been.

Flyer and Terrain Specialist
These are the two most common Features. I just spoke about them two weeks ago when talking about Alternate Forms so I won't repeat myself. The other benefit about them is that they let the GM create non-mech enemies like planes/submarines/tanks which will behave differently from mechs at no MP Cost. This is very important for Bosses, who can technically be given regular Upgrades in place of Boss Upgrades, but you really shouldn't do that.

Power Suit
Power Suit is an alternative Antimaim. It costs no MP (obviously) but makes it so that, instead of losing Upgrades and Weapons, you lose stats when Maimed. Whether the effect is easier or harsher on the user depends on the build. Personally, I like these as a 'cleaner' implementation of the Maim rules, though they do loses some of the flavorful touch that the standard rules have to them.

While we're on the subject of Maiming, I'm glad you guys also like the mechanic! I'm still a bit conflicted over the rules, but I'm relieved that sticking with them was the right call. The poll between deep combat and streamlined narrative is much closer, but it didn't start that way. At the beginning, deep combat was winning by a landslide. Later on, streamlined narrative and neither/unsure got a lot more votes, which I found an interesting twist.

There'll be a new poll next week when we talk about Weapons.

Next: Default Weapons & Weapon Keywords.

Gimmick Out.