January 26, 2014

Survivors of Battle Century G

Running a one man operation has its ups and downs. On the plus side I don't depend on anyone else to do my work, so I don't have to delay things when someone fails to deliver their editorial notes or whatever. On the minus side I do very much have to delay things when the problem is on my end.

I wanted to let people take a look at BCG today but I ran into a few Technical Problems, so I'll need another week or two to get that sorted. In light of this being a Day of Hopes Dashed and Hearts Crushed, I'll write about a few mechanics that did not make it through BCG's alpha period for whichever reason, then show the ones that replaced them.

UninTensional Consequences

Let's go straight for the throat with this one. Here is the first version of Learning Computer written in BCG's alpha document.

Learning Computer
Type: External
Cost: 10
Effect: In response to the results of an Enemy Might Test against you, you may spend 3 Energy to deny that Test its Tension bonus from the result.
Description: The Learning Computer is an amazing system that compensates for the rising difficulties in keeping out of harm’s way during battle. It reads and adapts to the patterns and movements of the enemy, moving the Gear on its own to keep it safe.

Expensive, isn't it? Even with that Energy cost, LC had the issue of being way too powerful as a secondary Active Defense. See, early on you'd just use Custom Defense to up your Guard for 3 or 5 points cheaply, but if the enemy used a supermove like a Technique after Turn 4 then having this as a safety net was very much worth the redundancy.

So it had two problems, because by itself it was kind of crap, but as a complement to other Active Defenses it was fantastic. It shut down the game's flashiest finishers hard, and was frankly pretty frustrating to play against (if you missed last turn, you'll probably miss again without your Tension bonus). I tried downgrading it a little and came up with this.

Learning Computer
Type: External
Cost: 5
Effect: In response to the results of an Enemy Might Test against you, you may spend 2 Energy to deny that Test half its Tension bonus from the result.
Description: The Learning Computer is an amazing system that compensates for the rising difficulties in keeping out of harm’s way during battle. It reads and adapts to the patterns and movements of the enemy, moving the Gear on its own to keep it safe.

This is much more reasonable, and the cheaper cost lets you know that it won't be enough as your only Active Defense, somewhat mitigating that it is kind of subpar against anything that is not a Technique. Unfortunately, it still nerfed Techniques way too hard and I was not comfortable having an Upgrade with a cost of 5 that did that. Learning Computer might make a comeback in the future, but for the time being its niche of denying Tension every Turn is not one I'm willing to risk having in the game.

This left me with a hole in my Active Defense roster, and while I briefly considered leaving it there instead of experimenting with something new and risking making things worse, I realized there was something else I could do. There was one that I had not tried adapting to BCG yet...

Reactive Booster
Type: External Upgrade
Cost: 5
Effect: In response to the results of an Enemy Might Test against you, you may spend 1 Energy to increase your Guard by an amount equal to half your Speed against it.
Description: Reactive Boosters read specific patterns and automatically move the Gear in response to even the fastest of attacks. Custom variants include CQC footwork and anti-missile cartwheels, among others.

This is similar to ECS, but with a few very obvious differences. It is cheaper in both XP and Energy terms, but also a lot less powerful. At the low end it is slightly worse than Custom Barrier, while it is is only slightly better at the high end. Reactive Booster is not particularly exciting, but it does work against Blasts and assorted Area of Effect Weapons (unlike ECS), so you can always count on them if you've got Speed on your side.

It works better at the higher Power Levels, when the cost of 5 XP and 1 Energy is basically an afterthought, yet the Guard bonus remains useful. Not to mention you can afford to spend a bunch of points on Speed by then without sacrificing everything else.

Specialists of all Trades

Early on I thought these two were a neat idea:

Wind Cutter
Type: Melee
Cost:  5
Effect: Long-Range. When using the Aim Action with this Weapon it gains an additional Advantage and its Maximum Range increases by 5 .
Description: With this oversized, rocket-powered shuriken you can now slice and dice from a distance - and have the Weapon come back to you afterwards!

Hand Cannon
Type: Shooting
Cost: 5
Effect: This Weapon gains an Advantage when used to Engage in a duel or against a target that is in one.
Description: Giant handguns designed for use when other firearms would be too unwieldy. These come in many forms and shapes, with the Verne Military Police’s favorite being that of revolvers. Cocky ace-wannabees are known for customizing them to resemble the old Desert Eagle.

Inspiring stuff, I know. Not only were they really boring, they gave specialists a really cheap way out of their biggest weaknesses. Evidently trying to blur the lines between Weapon types was not a good idea. So I went in the complete opposite direction and used their differences as a strength.

Arm Guardian
Type: Melee
Cost: 5
Effect: Passing the Might Test with this Weapon increases your Guard by 3 against any Might Tests from the Enemy you just attacked for a Round.
Description: A giant shoulder guard with pointy ends might not sound like much. It is pretty useful for pointmen trying to draw the heat away from the rest of their team, though.

Superheavy Machinegun
Type: Shooting Weapon
Cost: 5
Effect: Blast, Unreliable. This Weapon inflicts an additional Disadvantage when using the Suppress Action but you may not Move as part of your Actions when using it.
Description: An oversized firearm that lends itself to accusations about trying to overcompensate for something. The recoil is terrible, forcing the Gear to brace itself and remain immobile. Even then most of the shots go in the wrong direction anyway, but after all is said and done there is no better gun to provide suppressive fire.

Arm Guardian works because once you're in a Duel your opponents will have to attack you or risk giving you free swings with Weapons that hurt a lot more. Superheavy Machinegun outright blocks your ability to move entirely and forces you to park and settle down, but it provides fantastic suppressive firepower. Overall they, much like a lot of the game's Weapons in general, have a tight focus and are less wacky experiments like a lot of GGG's Weapons were.

Hael Me Plz

In BCG every little point of Threshold matters more than it did in GGG, so I have to be really careful with abilities that restore Threshold. One of the most dangerous things I could do is let someone turn their Actions into straight up health, which is my way of saying that the Micromanage Action is not going to be part of BCG. Energy already regenerated naturally, which was half the reason Micromanage existed in the first place, so it shouldn't be much of a surprise it is not coming back for Battle Century G.

What should be slightly more of a surprise is that there's no Base Terrain either.

I originally thought that, as long as you were in Base Terrain, you could spend Energy to regain Threshold at a rate of two to 1 (kind of like how Biological does it) at no Action cost. This lasted all of four hours until I realized that it was much better than Defensive Terrain if you had Energy to spare. Kind of a shame really, mostly because it reduced Base Units to transports and shields for their Allies.

On the plus side now we have these two.

Type: External (Restoration)
Cost: 10
Effect: At the beginning of your Turn you may spend any amount of Energy to restore half that much Threshold to yourself.
Description: Your Gear integrates all sorts of nanomachines into its own frame, letting it draw from them to replenish as necessary. This is much faster than others who have to lug equipment around, though of course it cannot protect allies.

Type: Separate (Support)
Cost: 10
Effect: Increase the Energy available to yourself or an Ally by 5 until their next Turn. Multiple Overcharges on the same Unit do not stack.
Description: The Overcharger looks like a lightning gun that would make Tesla proud, but actually shoots a stream of nanobots carrying Gygravagnite crystals. These crystals will essentially overclock a Gear temporarily, making it run at 200% power for a very brief period of time.

Regenerative is an alternate to Jury-Rig that does not cost an Action but uses the Biological Energy-to-HP conversion ratio and only works on the user. It is only half as effective, but even half effectiveness is worth a lot when the appropriate stats are high.

Overcharge is one of the revamped old abilities that does something completely different now, which is appropriate given its history. Originally, it was part of GGG's healing Upgrades line (along with Jury-Rig, Resupply, and Reload) but it restored a spent Genre Point to the recipient. It was overpowered to the point that I started trying out every thing I could think of with it until it became a portable barrier generator which was both unique and useful, though it was complicated and did not have much to do with its original use.

This time I tried to make the 'restores spent GP' thing work again, but each individual Power is so much stronger that it would have to cost something downright silly like 30 XP. So I went for something that might interest Energy users a bit more.

What Does not Kill you Makes you Stronger

I'm getting a lot better at catching this stuff early in the development process. This goes to show that while I still don't get things quite right on the first try, it is very hard for the really overpowering or game warping stuff to slip past even the first playtest.

Next week, things happen*.

*: Things might happen the week after the next if it comes down to it, but no later than that.


  1. In overcharge description it should have "Spend action to" in the beginning to make it clear it takes your action.

  2. And here I came wondering if there were any later updates to GGG. Brand new system huh?

    Looking forward to that first version!


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