Jan 8, 2017

BCG Retrospective XXXVI: Boss Powers.

Last week it wasn't until the middle of the night that I remembered it was a Sunday and I was supposed to update. RIP my half-year+ streak of regular updates.

Boss Powers are different from PC Powers in that they're much stronger, but having less of them makes Bosses less versatile. Powers are a big part of their identity, providing a repeatable trick that can be used from the beginning of the battle and doesn't spend a Turn, unlike Boss Upgrades and Boss Weapons. Some Boss Powers are defensive, others are offensive... All of them are strong enough that the PCs will have to adjust their plans accordingly after seeing them.

The defensive Boss Powers generally prevent Damage while the offensive Boss Powers usually do direct Damage to PCs, they don't buff attack rolls or the Defense substat because that's something Upgrades already do and I didn't want bonuses that could stack too high for PCs to beat.

But all that pales in comparison to my favorite thing about Boss Powers: Their names that encourage you, the GM, to go full ham while calling them out. I like this feature so much that I will be reviewing the Powers not just on their flavor and mechanics, but also on how awesome and fitting the names are. Mechanics and gameplay are cool and all but overdone theatrics are the heart and soul of playing an antagonist.

Behold my True Power
We begin with one of the oddest Boss Powers, because while doubling up energy is a very powerful effect in specific circumstances, it doesn't actually achieve anything by itself. In the proper build though, BmTP (if there is one downside to the amazing Power names, it is how long they are and how ridiculous they sound made into an acronym) works both defensively and offensively. It is defensive because it lets the Boss use its special abilities after they're targeted by an Electromagnetic Detonator or similar effect. It is offensive because it works with variable energy costs like those from Power of Despair, Telekinetic Strike and Final Beam and makes those abilities absurdly powerful. Perhaps the classic villain line it is named after would have been better given to a more obviously powerful ability like, say, a Power that granted Might/Guard bonuses... But, as mentioned above, that risked a serious problem in making a boss accidentally too difficult. This makes the name worth a good 4 out of 5 Hams, so calling it out is always a solid choice.

Do you Desire the Power?
DyDtP offers a choice between losing 1 GP and taking 5.5 Damage on average, or gaining 1 GP but doing 11 Damage to your Allies. At low PLs, this is devastating because everyone has a low GP total, often being forced to take the second option. Worse, PCs often have low Threshold scores at that point, so an unlucky roll of 2d10 could take out two Threshold Levels of two Allies at the same time. That's kind of brutal and a little too swingy for my taste... But the choice should have a degree of randomness to it, so that the 'deal with the devil' aspect of the Power makes players uneasy. I'd rather keep the high lethality and randomness if it means the Power isn't a 'safe' business transaction. Hamwise, this is one of the best of all the Boss Powers, it doesn't just fit the mechanics like a glove but you have to ask the chosen player to take one of two options to use it already, so playing the role of campy corruptor happens naturally.

Die for Me!
This does between 3 and 6 Damage per activation and there's no real way to mitigate it outside of Damage prevention. It's simple, but effective, and works well for the high Systems builds that may not have the Might necessary to hurt PCs the traditional way. Looking at it like that, it is like a more reliable version of DyDtP that packs less of a punch and doesn't mess around with GP. I like the name, though it isn't from mecha fiction but rather is a Shin Megami Tensei reference. It's not a bad name to call out, but the low damage keeps it from being as impactful as you'd think it could be.

I Accept your Offering
A very, very flavorful and delicious Power. Eat up those minions to heal and do Damage at the same time! What's not to love? Well, for one, the values are kind of low. You need to sacrifice a high PL Grunt or one at full Threshold for a respectable amount of health or damage. Speaking of that, it might seem strange at first that this Power does Damage instead of just healing, but it would be very easy for the PCs to ignore the Boss and render the Power useless by destroying all the Grunts first. This way, at least they get a single okay effect no matter what. In hindsight, it probably should have just healed double the amount and left the weakness of blowing up the Grunts as is. The ham level is also quite low, as the line itself doesn't have a lot of impact and is mostly directed at an NPC. The idea is cool but the execution could have been better.

I Believe This is Yours
This is ridiculously strong. Its like Die for Me!... Except it also gives a Defense boost! The problem is, of course, that you need to take the Power twice in order to be able to use it against everything. The name also works very well for what it does, though it is not as theatric as that of its Boss Power brothers and sisters. I think the concept is cool and the execution is solid so this gets an A.

Make my Monster Grow
MmMG is, in addition to one of the funniest acronyms in the game, a Power that makes the Colossus Capstone much more common than it would usually be. In a way, this devalues Colossus because it is going to be less special when a Boss shows up with it... But the idea of turning a random Grunt into a miniboss and echoing Rita Repulse is too good to pass up. The healing will not help the Grunt survive much longer than it usually would (read: not very long) and the fact that the Grunt is going to be probably focus fired doesn't do much for its survivability... But all it has to do is stick around for a Round to hurt a PC or two enough to make it worth it. Overall, a cool power.

That will not Work Again
Inspired by monsters that adapt to attacks like the Devil Gundam or the Gilgilgan, this is one of the strongest defensive Powers available to a Boss that has enough staying Power to make use of the healing factor. The problem with that is... Well, much has been written already about BCG's combat being rather fast and brutal more often not. It doesn't do much against Techniques and Oneshots that don't get resupplied, either. But against PCs that rely on repeating the same attacks over and over, like Beast and Boosted Lance builds? It works like a charm. Not very showy, though, it just heals you. It's alright.

This Power used to be a weaker but repeatable Power that could be used in reaction to attacks. Why? So you could go MUDA MUDA MUDA! like Dio Brando of course! The original intent was you would spam it to block out any given attack with a flurry of punches Genre Powers. That was a bit too powerful though, allowing the Boss to fully negate attacks as long as it had GP to do so. The Boss could calmly take it easy until they were at their final Threshold Level then basically gain a shield for 20+ Damage points. The current version is easier to play around and the effect is not as oppressive. It is, however, a lot less memetic. Still works though. And I do like that this version plays much better.

You are too Slow
By far the best defensive Boss Power in the core book. The reroll is a great effect but it also grants plenty of utility value with the repositioning. The cherry on top is, of course, that the name makes a great taunt when you say its name out loud. The worst thing I can say about it is that it is probably too good at being the best defensive Power, but its power level is fine, if anything else the other Powers should be slightly stronger to catch up to it.

Your Fate is Sealed
YFiS is the final nail in the coffin for Techniques and Restorations in the core book. Not only are both underpowered abilities without the expansion, but this Power completely negates them. It should have been a debuff to Might and Guard. With all that said, it is an okay Power now that the expansion has buffed those builds considerably, allowing you to call it out smugly to let the PC know in just how much trouble they are.

And that was Boss Powers. As you can see, I was not kidding about the Ham Factor being my favorite thing about them. It was a nice change of pace to write about style for a bit more than just substance like usual. Next week we're back to normal with Boss Upgrades.

Gimmick Out.


  1. Do You Desire The Power, mathematically, assuming a Genre Point is worth 5.5 points of damage/ healing, choice 1 = -5.5 -5.5 = -11. Choice 2 is +5.5 -5.5 -5.5 = -5.5... so choosing to hurt 2 allies should be the better option. ... good luck convincing your teammates on the receiving end though!

    Make My Monster Grow is probably too powerful lolz. As you mentioned somewhere else, Boss Capstones are super strong and should remain the domain of bosses alone. Using it on a grunt is one thing, but if a boss uses it on a rival or a 2nd boss, it gets... PROBLEMATIC. ... I'm also imagining a scene where the boss is wimpy and can't fight, ala Dr Wiley and Rita Repulsa, and PCs are laughing it up... then Goldar/ Protoman jumps in, and hilarity ensues.

    ... This is a bit off topic, but wanted to ask how Macrowave cannon works. So, round 1, you declare your action as "charging the cannon" and you don't get to aim, but get to move? Round 2 you move and fire. Round 3, you can't do anything at all. Is that how it works? Sounds a bit harsh if that's the case! O.o? ... well it is a powerful weapon, to balance that, I guess, but still, 3 turns in one?

    1. DyDtD: There's also the matter that Genre Points, powerful as they are, don't necessarily keep you alive in the face of a boss that is also doing autodamage. I don't think there is a 'better' choice, but one of them is slightly less risky.

      MmMG: I mentally associate the Power with Grunts because I've only seen it used on Grunts and have only used it on Grunts myself. Doing it to a bunch of minibosses is thematically appropriate but PROBABLY a bit (much) OP!

      Macrowave Cannon: You got it mostly right. Turn 3 you can still do things that don't need an Action. The Weapon is actually a commissioned ability (getting your own upgrade/weapon was a reward tier during the kickstarter campaign) with the 3 turns part of it being in the request. The hard part was making that worth the investment. When/if I get to the BCZ weapons I'll do a breakdown of it.

    2. DyDtD: Well, there's genre powers that provide healing like Believe in Myself and I'll patch you up...

      Macrowave cannon, I have a fellow PC who keeps firing his macrowave cannon without charging it, or after spending a round Aiming with it... but all of us just pretend we didn't notice anything. Cause, really, I felt like the losing his next action was enough of a balance, it wasn't like the attack was that powerful in the first place. ... though, I can see it being very powerful if your GM throws hordes of grunts at your team, it'd be a cool form of crowd clearing. :)

    3. Forcing the first turn to be spent Aiming, rather than just 'charging' it, is the ideal approach I think. It does good damage with great range and aoe, but it's no Ground Zero.

    4. " but it's no Ground Zero."

      ... that's... pretty sad. I understand now how you got the whole 3 turns for 1 attack thing, but yeah, if it's not as strong as GZ, then it seems much more reasonable to get GZ instead. :(