Rebalancing Guardian of Steel
Battle Century G strikes a pretty decent balance between its many offensive, defensive and utility options. A few things do bother me a little, but there is one that bothers me slightly more than the others. Since you are reading this, I assume you have also read the title of this update and can infer that I am going to talk about Guardian of Steel next. If you don't then, hey, I just explained it to you so we're good to go now!
What is wrong with Guardian of Steel?
You can stack as many Advantages as you can buy with XP and Tension only goes up as the operation goes on, but you can only have one Active Defense up at a time and negative modifiers like Disadvantages are pretty rare, so it naturally gets harder and harder to avoid damage as power levels go up. The only effective way to stall or ward off enemies is by using your own turn to Maneuver - and Maneuvering is good enough to shield you from pretty much anything that isn't boosted with Genre Powers or ignores Defense entirely.
Maneuvering is alright by itself. A boost between +5 and +10 makes you near untouchable if you have a barrier on top of it. Since you're not using that turn to actually attack and win, but merely to avoid losing, that's fine. The only time Maneuvering is a problem is when we can use it together with offensive options. This is rare, but can happen in the following ways:
Commander Type plus Early Warning and Control plus Surprise Minefield: This costs quite a bit of MP and Energy, but does have the advantage that you're probably not spending any MP in Might or Weapons. It is useless against anyone with a way to avoid harmful terrain and a good systems or speed stat can minimize the damage. Too conditional to worry about it.
Combiners: As a component you are restricted to utility actions, of which the best is of course Maneuvering. Combiners are balanced around having higher defenses in exchange for having less total health than multiple units would, so this is fine.
Guardian of Steel: This one doesn't let you attack and does also cost a bunch of MP and Energy, but it does allow your team to do anything they want with impunity. It gets stronger with each teammate within your area of effect, which can get large enough to spread everyone out enough that they can't be targeted all at once with Blasts and the like. It is by far the strongest defensive strategy in the game.
There are effective counters against these strategies, but Guardian of Steel in particular requires Grunts to spam Blasts with debuffs and Rivals/Bosses to spam offensive Powers to take out the tank ASAP. They are effective counters, but they are repetitive and not too fun to play against, so it devolves into both sides using the same two strategies over and over. Given that one of the things I want to avoid the most is repetitive gameplay, I'd like to avoid that. Even if it means having to nerf Guardian of Steel.
So what can we do?
I see two solutions around this to keep it useful and worth the investment without making it the crux of every operation.
The first is to reduce Guardian of Steel's area of effect to a 1 Zone radius. This makes it only work with a team full of snipers or after a lot of setup positioning the party properly, which in turn makes everyone more vulnerable to kiting (the group now has to move at the speed of the slowest member of the party) and area weapons will hurt more. Waaay more. The effect is just as strong as it used to be but it is more situational, so you have to think about how and when to use it.
The second is to halve the Defense bonus granted to allies. Cutting the bonus to half makes it go from 6-8 to 3-4 which is a lot more manageable. Those 3-4 extra points are usually the difference between hitting for very little and not hitting at all, meaning that weapons with effects that trigger on hit can still have an effect with a good roll. Still not enough to make using those over Finger Nets and Bombardments a good idea though, but it is something. This is a boring change, but an effective one.
I could see us going with either option, and I will make sure to playtest both during the next few months, but I wanted to show you that I'm not just working on the expansion these days. This wouldn't be the awesome game it is if I didn't include you all in the development process as much as I do, and I intend to keep doing that.