Friday, January 04, 2008

Celestials - Up to the hype?

Here's my review of the newest toys on the Battletech block - the Celestial series omnimechs. One unique feature of these omnimechs is that their stock configurations do not go by the vanilla sounding 'A', 'B', 'Charlie' etc designations, but rather ominous sounding 'Dominus' and 'Invictus', which are the two sets we've seen so far. 'Dominus' is latin for 'lord', while 'Invictus' is latin for 'unconquered'.

A quick search on the net yielded this excellent poem from 1875.

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of Circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of Chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years

Finds, and shall find me, unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:

I am the captain of my soul.

-Invictus, William Earnest Henley

Would that more students have this sentiment...

Anyway, on to the review itself proper. I shall take a general look at the base chassis, instead of the specific configs, as they can be changed, anyway.

Some things to note about the Celestials in general. They ALL use double heat sinks, have small cockpit, and they ALL have C3i modules permanently installed... somewhere. Also, they are all named after angelic beings, heavenly hosts, or some such.

30 tons, goes 7/11/0, LFE powered. Other features are an XL gyro, light FF armor, and endo steel. It has a staggering(for a light mech) 9.5 tons of pod space.

Strengths - LFE makes it more survivable while freeing up more tonnage, ditto for the XL gyro. Weapons loadouts can be very vicious due to the large tonnage allocated.

Weakness - XL gyro and LFE makes it quite susceptible to criticals. Also, at 7/11 it's not very fast compared to contemporary light mechs that push their speed for all it's worth. Another problem is the limited amount of crit space remaining after all the new toys took them, which isn't helped by the space taken up by two additional double heat sinks. As a result, only the arms can mount bulkier weapons, and trying to squeeze in additional double heat sinks for energy-intensive configs would be a real pain.

Final Grade - B-
It's not really a scout mech, but more of a light mech hunter-killer.

45 tons, 6/9/0, LFE powered. Uses endo steel, with 10 fixed DHS. Has 21 tons of pod space!

Strengths - Disregarding the mech's appearance, this is what an upgraded Phoenix Hawk could be! Plenty of pod space, plenty of crit slots to put them into.

Weaknesses - For all of its pod space, it does not have enough slots in the torsos and arms to support heavy gauss rifles and AC/20 caliber weapons without splitting locations, and since the HGR can only be mounted in the torso, the Preta cannot mount it at all due to lack of space. This is a minor quibble, as it has more than enough pod and crit space for a wide variety of equipment.

Final Grade - A-
Excellent design with few weaknesses. Got a reduction in grade due to the small cockpit used. Of course, this is a common problem with all the Celestials.

60 tons, 4/6/0, LFE powered with XL gyro. Uses light FF armor, with 10 fixed DHS. Has lots of pod space - 28 tons!!

Strengths - Lots of pod tonnage, and lots of crit space available.

Weaknesses - For something that goes 4/6, you actually expect a bit more. Also, the use of the XL gyro makes it both more vulnerable to criticals, and more importantly, limits the use of the heavy gauss, restricting certain combat options. Other heavy weapons like AC/20s would have to split locations: not a good thing, but unavoidable. Armor is also not at the maximum, surprisingly.

Final Grade - B
It's as vanilla as a 60 ton mech can be. I would have preferred a 5/8 mover, that can fill in the speed gap between the Preta and the next mech, the...

70 tons, 4/6/0, LFE powered with Heavy Duty gyro. Uses endo steel, with 11 fixed DHS. 29.5 tons of pod space - scarcely better than the Grigori?

Strengths - The heavy duty gyro makes it laugh at gyro hits(at least the first one), which is one heck of an advantage given how many battles I've seen turn rapidly because a mech took snake eyes on the location roll, got critted, got the gyro damaged, and henceforth spent the rest of the game crawling on the ground. Has max armor, always a plus. The 11 DHS are also all in the engine, another big plus.

Weaknesses - Pod space is a bit on the low side for modern CBT play, but this is actually less of a hindrance than many would think. Can't really see any real weaknesses, other than the old problem of not enough crit slots for heavy weapons in the torsos, or the arms, for that matter.

Final Grade - B+
With no real weaknesses to speak of, the Deva can match up well with any Inner Sphere heavy.

85 tons, 3/5/0, LFE powered. Uses triple strength myomer, with 10 fixed DHS. Has a staggering 43 tons of pod space!!!

Strengths - This is assault mech territory, the land of snails with big guns, and the Seraph is no different. It has the pod tonnage with the crit tonnage to mount virtually any weapon, including the huge HGR(but not the HAG-40, but that's clantech anyway...). With a good configuration, it can pound Templars and Sunders into the dust. The use of the TSM is interesting, and offers it increased mobility at the cost of accuracy.

Weaknesses - The TSM which is a strength is also a liability - how to keep it activated? Also, a light engine on an already slow mech seems like a waste, as using a standard engine only deducts 3 more tons. In other words, the LFE is hardly worth it on the Seraph.

Final Grade - B+
The Seraph has potential, but I am really irked by the TSM and the LFE...

100 tons, 3/5/0, compact engine powered with a compact gyro. Uses endo steel, with 12 fixed DHS. Max armor. Has 36 tons of pod space?!?

Strengths - The Archangel is the quintessential zombie, and a showcase of the new technologies introduced in Tech Manual. You have to literally dismember it from limb to limb to destroy it. It also has loads of crit space for the heaviest weapons in both the arms and the torsos.

Weaknesses - For a 100 ton mech, its firepower is kinda pathetic. The Invictus config has a oh-so-scary 25 points of damage max! Most experienced players would ignore it to kill other targets that offer a more favorable armor/firepower ratio.

Final Grade - B+
Despite its flaws, the Archangel actually serves well in the role of the unkillable spotter or command mech that you absolutely must bring down to win. What a zombie...

Overall Grade for Celestial Series - B+
The Celestials were introduced as a way to bring in all the new toys from Tech Manual, and while they are not really optimised(shades of the nerfed 3050 clan omnis),
in the right hands they can still provide any player with a stiff challenge. There is also a synergistic effect of their various strengths and weaknesses. eg. using the Archangel as the unkillable spotter and the Malak and Preta as the scout hunter/killer, with the Griogori, Deva, and Seraph as the main battle line. Add in C3i, the fact they are piloted by the Manei Domini, and you get one heck of a brew. A Level II of these are, I think, a match for a clan star.


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