May 11, 2013

Mechanical Make-Up V

Moving over to examining the Pilots themselves, and what better way to bridge them than using the rules bridge between Pilots and their Mecha? Today is about Genre Powers. So how are they faring on a general sense? Pretty good I'd say.

While having a varied suite of Powers with multiple costs of which only one could be used per Round made things more strategic, it wasn't as fun as the current version is. The standardization of Powers limits what can be done with them somewhat, with the grand majority of Powers being straight offensive or defensive. There's less room for utility or off-the-wall Powers around. Having all of them cost 1 also really hurts most defensive buffs, which have slightly weaker effects and last one Round. Specially since you can always change your strategy slightly to ignore the guy with super defenses for another Round.

Characters start with 3 Powers, plus the Default six, and can have up to 8 -or beyond if the game goes for a really long time and the power scale is entirely off the hook. Most will take 2-3 Powers necessary to their build and team role (such as Believe in Myself, Take one for the Team, Strength in Union and Exhaustion) plus 1-2 offensive ones (of which there's so much variety just in the Common pool alone that you're bound to find some you really want to have) then pick the more conditional Powers that support their 'core' ones (Examples include Keeping Up, Impetuous Style, Gotta go Fast and Retroactively Prepared)

This means that nearly every character will have enough Powers to pull an alpha strike when pressed against the ropes, more so taking into account the extra three Genre granted from taking Damage. And since there's so many offensive options, strategies tend to revolve around managing how often and when to do your special moves. This would get repetitive fast if there wasn't so much variety in the power and weapon selection, also if it wasn't badass as heck.

On to the Powers themselves!

Default Powers

These six are pretty self explanatory, they work well and aren't in much need of an evaluation since everyone gets them for free anyway. The only ones that sometimes irk me a little are Synchro Attack (though I'm sure I'm done finding ways to break it by now) and Data Scanner which could stand to be shorter but simply spending a Genre to learn everything about one or more Enemies is such a gimme there's no reason not to do it, and that just takes out the fun of discovering stuff for yourself.

Common Powers

Of the ten Common Powers, a whooping seven are purely offensive, with Counterattack being an arguable number eight. This really cements the idea that everyone wants to have a couple of genre-based ways to put some oomph into their moves. Ready for Another Go and Counter Intelligence are the most universally useful of the Common pool otherwise, and if they weren't so good at what they do, they'd be Default Powers. Keeping them as Powers that everyone can grab (but don't automatically get) helps keep things like Energy abuse in check and stops Bosses from having their abilities shut down constantly.

Champion Powers

Really good for a Shield type Chassis. They're actually pretty useful in general, but Shield Mecha just make them amazing to the point it feels like a waste to use them without being a Shield yourself. Perhaps ironically, Get a Hold of Yourself is kind of unsustainable if your build is a regenerative, long term type and not a damage prevention one.

Trickster Powers

Hidden Power is amazing. Variable Range is useful, and a solid 'tier 2' utility Power to grab once you have all the important stuff. Keeping Up is fantastic if you can actually make use of it, and two characters doing it in concert together with what the other lacks is pretty scary, the Setup speed hurts its defensive uses but it was kind of overpowered when you consider just how huge the swings could be and how few offensive Powers can be used at reaction speed.

Assassin Powers

Three really good powers. Target Lock and Pierce are fantastic, while Impetuous Style ranges from being alright to being very very good depending on the Weapons used. This might be the best Package overall, all things considered, which is frankly kind of understandable in a game about blowing up giant robots.

Scout Powers

Do you have high Evasion? Then odds are your Threshold isn't that good, and you really don't want to be caught in area effects like those of Finger Net or Incinerator. Good thing this package not only makes evading blows easier, it also gets you to move faster! Where'd he Go? makes a pretty amusing combo with Come at Me Bro, if you want to be the group's tank. Overall these lack the direct impact of the top tier Powers, and are suited for specialized characters, but they fit their niche really well.

Supportive Powers

So-so. Got Your Back is a small buff short in duration. Guiding Hand is a bit weak by itself, but the moment more Advantages come into play it can help turn them into additional d10's, which is nothing short of devastating. In that sense, it works as intended since you want to save it for when it will be of decissive help. Retroactively Prepared is the best Power of the three, and that is mostly because you can use it to support yourself through Regenerative... which kind of goes against the point.

Protective Powers

I never noticed before that Come at me Bro is absolutely bananas if there's two users on the team. I'll errata in immediately that a second instance overwrites the first. Take one for the Team is like a weaker Sacrifice on demand, and obviously a fantastic combo with Champion Powers. But the real gamewinner here is Martyr, which if not for the once-per-Enemy limitation would pretty much guarantee victory on targets with lower health totals than yours. Now I could take that limitation away and make it deal, say, half the Damage taken (or a fixed amount like 1d10)... But I think this feels a lot more awesome to use, and at the end of the day the game is about awesome characters in awesome robots doing awesome things.

Director Powers

Strength in Union does exactly what you would expect it to and gives everyone a push to stay in the fight. Or heals 1 Threshold and the character utterly fails at friendship speeches this time. Luck is fickle! With that said, you're looking at a 15 points-ish swing in health for the group on average, and that would be ridiculous if you could repeat it. Last Ditch Effort rewards the group having a plan and sticking to it. On the Double is situational but can prove a life saver when it does become necessary, and since it is the only one that can be used more than once per Operation it will make its presence deeply felt then.

Controller Powers

Confusion in the Ranks is either completely devastating or a worse Not so Fast depending on whether you're facing an army of Grunts or a single Boss. Of course, in practice it only gets used in the former scenario, so the 'once per Operation' limitation is reasonable. It is almost necessary for someone in the group to have Exhaustion, as it can make battling Rivals and Bosses who rely on that resource a lot more manageable. Finally, the Weakest Link also might not seem like it does much, but when everyone is focusing fire on a single enemy, it counts for a lot. Depending on the build, the target will suffer between three and seven more damage per strike. That adds up. Fast. This is another solid Package.

Assassin and Trickster might be the best overall Packages, the latter simply because of Hidden Power's sheer utility. Director, Controller and Protector would be the second most useful, of which it is recommended that every group has one person with that selection of Powers. Champion and Scout are good at the specific, singular role they are dedicated to as party tanks... And then there's Supportive.

All Packages are worth taking as is, except for Supportive. Got Your Back can be bumped to Reaction Speed, making it slightly better than Not so Fast. Retroactively Prepared would make a lot more sense if you could choose the type of Support on the spot, too. I'm not sure I like the idea of a Power that can reliably be used to evade enemy hits, and I am a bit worried about the exponential increase to Retroactively Prepared's utility, but the Package in general could use the push. Arguably it would still be at its best when used to buff yourself (Though there's honestly better Packages for that), but at least it makes supporting your Allies much more useful than the current version.

Next up, Pilot abilities proper.

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