Saturday, December 08, 2007

Tech Manual Thoughts (for CBT players only!)

Well, got Tech Manual about three weeks back, and since then I've been busy going through all my re-designs and putting in the new stuff when appropriate. I never much liked fan re-designs that don't take the mech's original design specs and combat role into consideration. The best re-designs are those that still conform to the 'flava' of the mech, for lack of a better word.

So, going through the new equipment for battlemechs(ignoring the workmechs stuff), and how I used them:

Structural components
Compact engines - Urgh, compact engines take up much less space in the CT, but pay a 50% penalty in mass increase. Most of the time, it's impossible to find enough mass savings on older designs to put in a compact engine, and even if it was done, the CT still needs some more equipment to act as crit soakers. Very few of my re-designs have compact engines, though I did manage an Atlas with MMLs, max armor, compact engine and compact gyro. The quintessential zombie... like the Wobblie Archangel(the Celestials-series omnimechs demand a post of their own!).

Compact gyro - Ahah! Now this I can get! For a mere maximum of two tons penalty, you squeeze the gyro's crit slots to just two slots, which makes frustrating gyro hits(+3 to PSR) due to golden BBs(hit location roll of 2) less of a worry. Of course, you still to put in stuff to soak up crits, but most of the time, a double heat sink and a C3 slave unit would suffice. The very best structural addition to the construction game, IMO. I managed to put in compact gyros for many re-designs, and the results are generally very pleasing. Because of this, I can also make the weapon locations in few mechs match the artwork better. The best example of this would be the classic unseen Marauder.

XL gyro - Acts much like the XL engine, halving the weight of the gyro for an additional two crit slots in the CT, for a total of 6 gyro slots. Makes it very vulnerable to golden BBs, so I restricted it to ultra-fast light mechs that could use the weight savings to boost their armor or weaponry. The example for this would be the Davion Fireball. Putting an XL gyro in means that I can upgrade the guns to dual ER meds, a streak SRM 2, and even put in a C3 slave unit. All this for max armor and a movement rate of 11/17.

Heavy duty gyro - An interesting piece of equipment, but one that needs a hefty mass penalty to pay for. I don't think I used it at all, because I prefer the gyro NOT to get hit in the first place. A compact gyro is still better.

Small cockpit - For a +1 penalty to all PSR rolls, you get only 1 life support crit in the head and 1 ton free, which it's now possible to put weapons(and other equipment) with two crit slots in the head! An ER large laser in the head area... weird... I stay away from this one, because the +1 penalty to PSR is just too painful to ignore for 4/5 regular pilots on most designs. Of course, the Wobblies don't need to worry about this, since they have Vehicular Direct Neural Interface(VDNI) equipped elite Manei Domini Phantoms who can ignore the +1 penalty for their mechs with small cockpits. As a Wobblie, I'm very happy about this, but non Wobblies are very pissed at all the good stuff we're getting.

Improved jump jets - I'm kinda neutral to this. It's hard to get the extra mass and crit slots open for the IJJs, and in many cases, I find it's only possible by downgrading the engine, which violates my personal rule of re-designing - don't change the speed/engine ratings! Interesting things can be done with IJJs, but I think they belong more in the realm of custom jobs.
I tried it out on the Spider, reducing the base movement to 5/8, while using IJJs to keep the jump MP at 8. This freed up enough mass to max out the armor! Same for the Venom.
Still, I feel the reduction in walking/running MP is a tactical limitation. Imagine you can get behind the rear of an opponent, but because you don't have enough run MP, you have to jump there, which means a +3 which makes any attack roll much more difficult. So in the end, I stuck with the basic movement rates and engine ratings for all my mechs.

Light/heavy ferro-fibrous armor - For only 7 crits, it's now possible to up the armor a bit using LFF! I used this extensively, especially on many of my re-designs that I squeezed TSM in because they had crits free but couldn't use them all up, particularly in the 7-13 free slots range. But now, with LFF armor, I can take away the silly TSM and put LFF armor in. HFF armor is also an excellent option for mechs with FF armor and still 7 or more slots free, and beats out even clan FF armor! Nothing to dislike about these armors. My second fav component option
improvement in Tech Manual.

Weapons and equipment
Light autocannons - Lighter and takes up less crit slots than regular ACs, at the cost of shorter ranges and caliber restrictions(only LAC/2 and LAC/5 available). Not too bad, given that they can also use specialized AC ammunition. I do tend to use this quite a bit, especially on canon designs that rely on overly heavy ACs, such as the Rifleman and Jagermech. Switching their guns to LACs opens up a lot more options to upgrade their armor protection and heat dissipation.

Plasma weapons - The one thing I steered away from completely, because I can't bother to create it as a custom weapon in HMP. I can see their uses, but can't really find mechs to mount this new weapon yet. As anti-vehicle and anti-infantry hunters and medium range fighters, they'll probably be very good. Against TSM mechs, the plasma rifle is a killer. The clan version, the plasma cannon, is also very useful. Alas, I have stayed away from clan redesigns so far...

Heavy PPC - For increased weight, increased heat, and crit slots, you can swap out a PPC for the heavy version, which packs a whopping 15 points of damage. The most vicious new weapon for the Inner Sphere to appear in Tech Manual, and already a fast favorite of most designers. Their weight and heat requirements, however, mean that it's tough to get them onto designs with two or more PPCs. In the end, I only managed a few. The Awesome with 3 HPPCs is probably the most terrifying of the lot on paper, but with only 17 DHS, has to resort to a 3-2-2-2 firing pattern. IMO, the Guillotine with a compact gyro, HPPC, 2 MPLs, 2 ER meds, SRM2 pack, and a TC is the best mod I managed with heavy PPCs.

Light PPC - Halve the weight and space of the PPC, and you get the light PPC. Some like to think of it as just a longer ranged ER med laser, but I prefer not to, because of the minimum range. If anything else, the weapon it most closely resembles is the AC/5. Same range and damage, but the light PPC is vastly lighter for only 4 more points of heat. Essentially, Light PPC + 2 DHS > AC/5 with ammo. I didn't use this weapon much, because finding ways to swap out ER meds for LPPCs is just too difficult, and I prefer not to change ACs out for energy weapons at all if I could help it.

Snub nose PPC - Now, this is an extremely interesting weapon. The weapon brackets are weird, 0/9/13/15, with drastic damage dropoff from short to long range. The lack of a minimum range and the unprecedented range of the short range bracket means that this is a perfect weapon for infighting designs. I used it on the Wyvern, Ostsol, and Lancelot.

Multi missile launchers - These are, contrary to what a lot of people think, not replacements for LRMs. Changing LRM launchers out for MMLs on a 1 to 1 tube basis, I realized there was too much of a penalty in weight and crit space. Just look at the Wobblie Viking. They changed it from a dedicated fire support platform to a... whatever it is, I don't know. Sure, it's scary up close, but the smart player would stay away and pepper it with LRMs with his original Viking.
For SRMs, however, they're almost perfect, if not for the fact that the weight per tube for MMLs get worse and worse and the rack size gets bigger. An example of this would be the classic Javelin. Put in ES and DHS, and then swap out the SRM 6 packs with four MML 3s, with 3 tons of ammo.
Also, it was possible to make MMLs work for redesigns, especially those with both LRM and SRM launchers. A Thunderbolt, for example, had a LRM 15 and a SRM 2. I changed them out for two MML 7s with 3 tons of ammo. For the loss of 1 tube, I get a hefty short range punch and increased versatility with LRM and SRM ammunition. Another example, more extreme, is the Highlander, with 1 LRM 20 and 1 SRM 6. I changed them out for two MML 9 racks, with 4 tons of ammo. Scary stuff.

Machine gun array - Not much use for this, unfortunately. For two machine guns, it's dead weight. The MGA is, I think, useful only on mechs with 3 or more machine guns. Only one mech had enough machine guns to justify this piece of equipment - the Sentry. I'm not counting clan mechs, of which one would stand out for the MGA - the Piranha!

Hyper assault gauss - No comment on this, as I haven't got around to making redesigns for clan mechs yet. But they're certainly scary in a way that MRMs are not... 40 points of damage at range 24? Ouch.

My favorite re-design using Tech Manual rules has got to be the Wyvern. The Wyvern originally was like this. Large laser, 2 small lasers, LRM 10 with 1 ton ammo, SRM 6 with 1 ton ammo. Near max armor, 12 single heat sinks. CASE in both torsos.

Now look at the Comstar/Word of Blake version. Toaster worshipping has its advantages!
I did the following:
Replaced the single heat sinks with double heat sinks. For better heat dissipation.
Changed the gyro to a compact version. Better chances of avoiding gyro hits.
Swapped the armor to light ferro-fibrous weave.
Took one torso CASE out, put all ammo on one side.
Swapped the large laser for a Snub nose PPC. Increase in hitting power at close range.
Changed all missile racks for two MML 5s with 2 tons of ammo. Essentially replaces the LRM 10 and SRM 6 rack, with an increase in short range hitting power!
Upgraded both small lasers. Upgraded 1 to a ER med, and the other becomes a ER small.
Lastly, included the standard piece of equipment for all toaster mechs - the improved C3 module!
The Wyvern is now an even better city fighter than before, with enhanced capabilities in every aspect, while still retaining the flavor of the design. Also can act as a hold up spotter at medium-close ranges in open terrain.

Next up, a review of the Celestials, along with their Invictus and Dominus configurations featured so far.


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