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.


  1. SHMG wording is not 100% clear.
    "This Weapon inflicts an additional Disadvantage when using the Suppress Action but you may not Move as part of your Actions when using it."

    Can you move when firing the weapon without suppression or not?

    1. The weapon forces you to be immobile any time you use it, not just when suppressing.

      You make a good point that the sentence could use a period in the middle.