The Gelgoogs present an interesting design problem. They are one of the few mobile suits to deploy with their shields consistently on their backs while most units have their shields pointed to the front. How best to represent that on the tabletop?
There are a few ideas as to why Gelgoogs typically have their shields strapped to their backs. At this late stage in the war many Zeon pilots were greenhorns, rookies who lucked out into piloting one of the best mobile suits Zeon produced. But even in a superlative suit they were still dropping left and right. Having the Shield on the their backs meant protecting their most vulnerable area and since these pilots were pretty green they likely hadn’t developed their situational awareness to guard against that in the 3-dimensional space warfare.
Another thing to consider is that many pilots trained on Zakus and some on Doms. If a pilot were to transition to a Zaku they may decide to stick with what they know. Zaku’s use a shoulder shield and the Dom’s ordinarily have no shield as well, so putting the Shield on the back is one less thing to learn while providing passive protection.
The last thing to consider is that Gelgoogs were assigned to the Ace Corps for Zeon. As we see in several other shows many expert pilots tend to eschew Shields and instead focus purely on mobility. So it’s not surprising that these Aces would either skip Shields entirely or put them on the back where it’s at center of mass making it easy to maneuver and turn.
With that said let’s look at game mechanics. Currently Shields provide a very valuable function where at the cost of +1 Weight they allow you to Block on your turn, both a ranged shot as well as a Melee Block (unless you take a gamble with a Counterattack). Both very useful defenses at the cost of making your Evasion 10% worse.
A lot of the game mechanics are balanced around Shields since we wanted to avoid situations where a unit could have so many Blocks they could no longer be threatened. The -1 Evade helps balance that out quite a bit, plus it reflects having a large heavy object on a cantilevered arm affecting your inertia. For Backshields, if they can only block shots from behind that significantly lowers their effectiveness.
A Blindside attacks means +2 Shots, so you are already at a disadvantage, the Backshield helps mitigate that. However, it has zero effect against most attacks (from the front). With that in mind we removed the +1 Weight penalty on backshields and rationalize that since it’s close to center of mass it has a limited effect on mobility and turning. In summary:
Shield: +1 WT. +1 Melee Block & Block 1 Shot per Action
Backshield: Block 1 Blindside Shot per Action
In the next update we’ll include two version of the basic Gelgoog to let you field one with the Shield out front and one with a backshield.