MechaStellar VER 8.7 Design Goals – Weapons Update

Closing out the VER 8.7 update here’s an indepth look at some of the design decisions that went into the Weapons update. For your convenience I have included the relevant summary line item list for each of those categories from the previous post as well.

Weapons Adjustments

  • Adjusted all weapon ranges to be R: 8/16/24/32/40/48 etc. inches.  Most weapons received either a range boost of 2-8″
  • Adjusted Sniper Rifles (Physical & Beam) to be 4 Shots, Rapid Fire-2.
  • Increased Heat Swords by +1 Slot and allow to Reroll 1s on ATK & DEF.  Switched Heat Hawk to reroll 1s on ATK.
  • Machine gun switched to Shots 6 RF+4
  • Reduced Hits on Flamethrower
  • Rebalanced missile profiles for Mecha & Warships
  • Lowered ARM PEN for bazookas and several melee & thrown weapons.
  • Created new thrown profile for high PEN weapons that previously used the high Crit profile (Heat Rods, Z Cutter, etc.) along with a new quality that mirrors the Rerolls 1s of heat weapons, but forces a reroll of 10s on Evade for the target.
  • Adjusted thrown / rocket weapons to have a split profile where they can take a longer range in exchange for lower shots and ARM PEN.

We’ve been wanting to standardize weapon ranges for a long time.  One of the major obstacles was that engagement range for large models was large enough that certain weapons (R:12″) could not rapid fire without being in engagement range.  Since we want MechaStellar to be fully playable using either small minis or your favorite Gunpla kit we had to fix that. 

The solution after a lot of very good arguments for and against was to improve range across the board for all weapons.  Such that anything previously Range 12″ (beam pistols) would now be Range 16″, and anything previously 18″ (Machine guns) would be bumped up to 24″, and anything previously at Range 24″ (Beam rifles) would now be 32″. 

While this change may seem minor it ends up having a large effect on game balance, tempo and tactics.  Weapons would now be able to rapid fire even further than before, and we had to be mindful of how that would play into units with low movement and high movement.  We had to consider how this would affect current gameplay where on large maps people may spend 1 or 2 rounds just maneuvering and shooting with slower OYW units before deciding to take gambit and go in for rapid fire range. 

We had to consider if were okay with a beam rifle reaching across a small battlefield such as a 4ft x 4ft dining room table.  Eventually those in favor won out and we implemented this and played a good number of test games to see how this affected lethality.  We found that units like the Gundam and Dom benefitted greatly, and Zaku players were far more likely to shoot at range rather than rush into rapid fire range while GM players were grateful their beam spray guns had a bit of extra reach.  Ironically we wound up with less games involving a rapid fire blitz between both players due to the range increase.  Funny how things work out that way.

For Sniper Rifles we bumped them up to 4 shots after comparing them with artillery weapons which had more shots and similar range.  We wanted to avoid a situation where a Sniper could be more effective with a cannon than they would be with an actual sniper rifle. 

Historically, Sniper units despite having some very powerful stats tend to struggle just due to the nature of a wargame where your opponent might luckily roll very well on all three dice on the few turns they do leave themselves outside of LOS cover.  As with most balance changes this isn’t final and we’ll be monitoring sniper rifles and artillery cannons to see if we need to drop them back down to 3 Shots each again.

For heat weapons we’ve had players who wanted reroll 1s on Attack and those on Defense for heat hawks and heat swords.  While rebalancing the Gouf we saw an opportunity to push it to a nice even 100pts by making the heat swords a 2slot weapon which provides Reroll 1s on Attack and Defense.  With that we could swap Axes back to Rerolls 1s on Attack.

Flamethrowers and Micromissiles had to be adjusted based on playtests and player feedback. For playtests both these weapons proved extremely good both for Super Robots and Real Robots (MS).  MS with their lower HP could be deleted via automatic hits in rapid fire range, these weapons were also extremely potent at finishing off a Titan low on HP in later Rounds.  GoLion (Voltron) playtests in particular were very effective at wiping out grunts and super robots alike with Grand Fire and Fire Tornado, likewise for the Emperor or Darkness from Mazinger.

ARMOR PEN was updated on several weapons.  While doing playtest games for Kaiju we’ve been experimenting with some traits that take effect depending on the Armor Penetration of the weapon.  Upon reviewing the weapon’s list we noticed there were several areas where there were almost no weapons with low PEN (<4).  We took a look at certain weapons to see which we’d be comfortable with lowering, many of them being melee. 

For shooting weapons the standout was Giant Bazookas which are already very potent with their high damage. We wanted them to be lower PEN than railguns but also wanted them to be effective antiship weapons so they received a special trait giving them +1 PEN vs Warships. 

For Melee weapons it was imperative that high Crit weapons such as Shin Getter’s Scythe or GGG Goldion Hammer have a lower Penetration simply because the bonus Hits from Crits could quickly get out of hand on a lucky roll.  In one match we had GaoGaiGar whallop GoLion (Voltron) with 23 Hits thanks to a surfeit of critical Hits.  Since this were quickly becoming the strongest melee weapon we opted to lower their PEN to counterbalance that, especially with three Armor Saves per weapon becoming the norm.

Lastly, we adjusted close range weapons such as beam boomerang or rocket punch to have a split profile with the longer range profile having PEN-1 and switched it to Shots 2 RF+2.  This was to avoid an issue with a R:8  Shots:4 weapon would be strictly inferior to a R:16″, Shots 2+2 weapon, the longer range was given a lower PEN to balance it, beam weapons received a -2 PEN instead.  The Rapid fire thrown weapons receive a better ATK growth as seen in Rocket Punch, Broken Magnum, etc.

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