Author Topic: Mech of the Week - The Minirauder – The General Motors Industry CTS-6 Cestus  (Read 2940 times)

marauder648

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Background
Developed and built in the late 2700’s for the SLDF (and probably for use with Royal Regiments) the Cestus as originally designed was to evolve into a different beast from the one we see now.  Originally conceived as a direct fire support energy boat the Cestus prototype featured a blistering array of lasers and particle weapons. 

Paired PPCs, Large Lasers and Medium Pulse Lasers on a 65 tonne chassis sounds great but the machine was plagued with cooling issues as its heat venting capacity was totally inadequate. It seems the original design despite its energy heavy weapons mix was fitted with single heatsinks and these could not even begin to deal with the heat generated by the energy based armament.
The machine then underwent a complete overhaul with a new prototype being built with an eye to not trying to replicate the core of a sun when it fired, which was good for the engineers working on it, as well as pilots who would have probably been reduced to dripping goo in the original prototype if they had accidentally fired an alpha strike.

The machine that would become the CTS-6Y Cestus was seen as a complete success by the SLDF Procurement Office (bribes may or may not have happened…it is the SLDF Procurement Office after all) and the machine was accepted and authorised for full production.
So that’s the background on this machine, what did the SLDF get for its money?  They got themselves a 65 tonne slugger and brawler, one at home in line regiments or as part of a heavy or assault lance. 

Built round a GM 260 XL engine the Cestus moves at a rather mediocre 65kph (4/6/0 in game terms) which is the average speed for many Inner Sphere heavy Mech’s but usually not one this light.  Keeping to the original design requirement for a fire support machine the weight saved on the Cetus’ average speed was poured into its armament and protection.  Oh nearly forgot, two tonnes of extra cooling was fitted and the re-design saw that the new Cestus was fitted with double heatsinks as standard, letting it vent 24 heat.

Save the XL engine no other weight saving materials are used, the Cestus is built on a standard structure and armoured with the redoubtable Durallex Special Heavy standard plate, a massive 13.5 tonnes of it, giving the Cestus the maximum possible protection in its weight class.

The thick hide of a Cestus takes a hammering to breach.  The arms can take an AC-20 whilst the legs can take a pair of gauss slugs.  The side torso’s can withstand an AC-20 blast and SRM-2 hit whilst the chest can withstand a pair of Gauss slugs and a single SRM-2 before being stripped of protection.  The rear armour is not bad either, the side torso’s can take a large laser and the back of the chest can take a PPC blast, making the Cestus a very tough machine to disable.

Variants

CTS-6X – The prototype that failed its entrance exam the 6X was a heavily armed design with paired PPCs Large Lasers and Medium Pulse lasers with the PPC’s being torso mounted and the lasers hiding in the arms, but 14 standard heatsinks…what were they thinking!? (or not thinking to be honest).  Because of its staggering heat woes the 6X was not accepted for service and a re-think was needed.

CTS-6Y – The one that we was introduced to and the one the SLDF accepted into service the 6Y packs a truly formidable punch.  It starts with its right torso mounted Gauss Rifle which feeds from three tonnes of ammo spread between the right torso and chest.  Acting in support of this heavy hitter is a pair of large lasers and standard medium lasers, mounted as a pair in the left and right arms.  This is a NASTY amount of firepower and a full broadside will still have you at heat neutral as long as you don’t move!   There’s a fair few heavy Mech’s and even some assaults who wish they had this firepower and the 6Y’s firepower still makes it a viable combatant in the modern era.

CTS-6Z – The prototype rides again!  Produced later as a new machine rather than a refit, the 6Z finally adopts the double heatsinks the prototype needed.  The Gauss rifle and its ammo are removed and a pair of PPC’s are fitted in its place, one in each arm.  The laser armament is retained and four additional heatsinks are added.  Whilst a full salvo will overheat you with its 42 generated heat you vent 32 of that.  Whilst lacking the raw head capping power of the Gauss rifle the 6Z saves any ammo concerns and is surprisingly cheap in terms of its BV at 1519.

CTS-7A – New toys abound in this complete rebuild of the Cestus chassis.  The main work is the complete stripping out of all the armament and a change in mission profile from long range support to close in brawler and city fighter.  The centrepiece of this is a huge LB-20X autocannon that can draw from a 3 tonne ammo bin giving you a decent choice between slug and cluster ammo.  A pair of SSRM-4’s are fitted with a tonne of ammo each whilst the energy armament is reduced to paired Medium Pulse Lasers and paired ER Mediums for some ‘ranged’ firepower.  No additional heatsinks were added and a full broadside assuming both Streak’s hit puts you at 28 heat if you don’t move and you vent 24 of that. 

General thoughts.

The Cestus like most of the 3058 TRO Mech’s is a well thought out and designed machine and it serves its fire support role admirably with a heavy battery of weapons.  Whilst it does go from the ‘norm’ of fire support, IE lots of LRM’s the big energy battery and the power punches of the Gauss are not to be ignored.  From a campaigning point of view as well the commonly available laser battery would probably be easier to replace and repair as standard large and medium lasers are probably as common as muck. 

This again applies to the 6Z, commonly available weapons easy to replace armour would probably make this Mech beloved by anyone in the Periphery who had to go on long patrols. 

The 7A is a close in brawler and I’m…not sure about this one.  Most close range fighters need speed on their side to be able to use their big punchy weapons.  The Cestus lacks this and could be outrun in more open terrain and picked apart, but in close quarters such as woods or a city the 6Z would no doubt shine. 

The Cestus could be used in a fair few roles, its armament and average speed say ‘trooper’ to me, you could have it in a heavy lance or as part of an assault lance although it’s not fast enough to keep up with Medium Mech’s. 

Killing one it’s really a matter of having to pound them apart.  The 6Y and 6Z have nothing explosive aboard save the Gauss rifle on the 6Y and that’s well protected. Their main vulnerability is the XL engine, to get all that firepower and protection they needed an achillies heel and the engine is it, ripping a torso off will kill this thing and whilst its weapons are dependable they are not the most long ranged so a clever opponent with ER Lasers/PPCs or LRMs could dance around at long range and slowly pick the Cestus apart.



Looks wise its a 3058 SLDF Mecha-egg and although a distant cousin of the Marauder with vaguely similar arm mounts for the lasers, the Cestus is a sleek if rather unremarkable machine to look at.


As always comments and criticism are most welcome.
« Last Edit: 05 May 2015, 15:31:29 by marauder648 »
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Tyler Jorgensson

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One of the novels Flashpoint describes a Kathil Militia pilot exchanging something for jump jets. I don't remember correctly what he exchanged but I experimented in MM with it and it solved a couple of problems with mobility.

Lovely article and one of my top favorite IS mechs

marauder648

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Hmm the TRO says there's no jumping variants, it could have been a one off, maybe downgrade the large lasers to mediums and slap on the 4 JJ's that way, there's no way you'd strip out the Gauss for JJ's, although..hrm..maybe downgrade that to an LB-10/Ultra-10 and use the weight from that...
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Wrangler

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I think there was decision made that a JumpJet Cestus was bit too much.  I always thought it was strange that the at least one-off Jump Jet version was never published in the Record Sheet form.  It was prototype that given to the Militia by GM.
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Tyler Jorgensson

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It wasn't an official version I'm sure of that: IIRC some ammo or armor was removed because it still had the full complement of weapons.

Maelwys

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Checking the Record Sheets, none of the designs have Large Pulse Lasers, they only have standard Large Lasers, which seems to match the fluff from 3058U.

The MUL Team has also apparently tried to reconcile some of the fluff and tech choices by giving the 6X a production/introduction date of 2609, which sort of justifies the choice of single heat sinks on the design, but even that is pushing it, since double heat sinks were available during the Reunification War.

The introduction date of the 6Y in 2766 means that either Kathil didn't produce the poorly designed 6X for 150 years, or they did and no one got around to fixing the heat issues for 150 years.  Quite strange.

I like the 6Y and 6Z. They're solid dependable designs that can hold the line for a while and dish out damage. The 24 rounds of GR ammo on the 6Y means you can take risky shots that you might not with "standard" 16 rounds most Gauss Rifles have. Though naturally the GR going up is going to ruin your day.

I've never used the 7A but it looks decent. With the close range weaponry, I sort of wish it was the "jumping" variant, maybe dropping the MPLs for jump jets, but I guess sometimes you just really want the firepower on Solaris. The lack of CASE and 4 tons of ammo in the torso (50% chance of it going up with each crit really), explains why this design didn't last past the Jihad.

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I recently started using the Cestus. And honestly I find it a nasty piece of work. Enough that I have no fear dealing with anything in its own weight class or smaller. But like noted, a Jump Jet fitted version would be nice.

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Arkansas Warrior

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One of my favorite heavies.  It's really a well-designed mech, with the XLFE being its only "flaw".


As far as how you'd make one jump, an endosteel chassis frees up 3 tons all by itself, but that's more a variant than a refit.  Maybe drop the extra heat sinks?  It doesn't really need them, though that's not going to free up all the tonnage you need either.




The Cestus is also notable as the preferred battlemech of Cassandra Allard-Liao(-Rubinsky), and prominently features in the Capellan Solution duology for that reason.
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Lord greystroke

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Always found the Cestus a good mech in my heavy units worked well in my heavy C* level 2's with black Knights and guillotines around it worked very well for area denial and attacking fixed areas

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The Cestus is a good brick of a mech.  Nothing complex, just point it at the enemy and shoot them.  I think it was built around the same theme as the Nightstar and Dragon Fire.

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the Cestus is one of my favorite mechs.  she's always struck me as a line-holder, much more so than the mech of that name.  she can deliver withering firepower at all ranges and not need to back down thanks to heavy armor and plenty of heat sinks.  she might not be nimble but she brings the firepower of an assault mech in a lovely 65-ton package.  three tons of Gauss ammo let you fire constantly, and the presence of hand actuators let you easily deck someone if the fighting gets up close and personal.  also, if i remember correctly Threads of Ambition stated that Kai's Cestus had been outfitted with an endo-steel frame to free up the space for it's jump jets, and for the life of me i cant figure out why it isn't a canon variant.  maybe TPTB figured they already had the Tempest.  i dunno.  but personally i like the Cestus alot better and since she's permeated the FedCom RATs i would like to have a version that jumps.

the mech's only real downside (in my mind) is it's BV.  if you're under BV constraints the Cestus can be kinda hard to work in.  personally i think its worth the cost, though some might want some more armor to go with that kind of investment.  some might also gripe about the XL engine, but lets face it you cant strap that much hurt onto a 65-tonner without it.  if you reeeeeally are that bothered you could always swap in endo-steel and a light engine.  personally i don't think its worth it though.  i would much rather put that weight into jump jets and cough up some extra BV than have a light engine.

also, a note for my fellow Alpha Strike players out there: the Cestus is an absolute butcher.  she's a 65-tonner that has a 4/5/2 damage spread.  for a whole 37 points.  yeah, really.  to put that in perspective, the AS7-D (one of the better performing Atlas models) is a 5/5/2 and costs 52 points.  now, granted, the fat-Atlas has a significant advantage in armor/structure, and it's only marginally slower, but... thats the point right there.  when you cant swing the points/tonnage for something like an Atlas but you need brawler to anchor your line, the Cestus is the perfect mech for the job. 
« Last Edit: 06 May 2015, 17:50:30 by whistler »
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FedSunsBorn

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Out of the '58 heavy mechs, I like the Cestus a lot and would probably put it in second place after the Dragon Fire.

Having used and liked the Caesar before due to it's Gauss Rifle, I absolutely loved the Cestus even more. It had a crap ton of armor and excellent direct fire weapons that could hurt even Clan mechs. I tend to use it with my other slower heavies or faster assaults or even as as bodyguard for fire support mechs that also move 4/6.

Really only ever used the standard model but that close combat variant looks like a beast in the city, elsewhere, not so much....
« Last Edit: 08 May 2015, 00:21:04 by FedSunsBorn »
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I separated the units I felt were any good as part of an effort to have a library of effective designs when a friend and I got down to unit selection while we were still playing at our FLGS, and 3058 had a surprising number that made the final count.  The Cestus was a shoe-in with (I think) a standard and ER large laser variant in the pile.

Ironically, the design is one of those bad-luck designs for me, much like the Tempest or RAC Marauder variant.  Love them and want to field them, but have such terrible luck I just gave up on them.
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Getz

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I love the Cestus - it's a design that has never failed me.  Arguably it would be better off with ER large lasers (and it would be an easy enough refit if you wanted it) but I like the fact that the thing can stroll around alpha striking things for as long as the Gauss rifle ammo holds out never causing so much as a murmur on the heat scale - ordinarily I'd consider such a design over-sinked but sometimes it's nice to have something that can just deliver the pain, turn after turn.  I also like how the Large lasers long range syncs up perfectly with the medium range of the gauss rifle, giving you a nice incentive to try and exploit that narrow range bracket advantage over the other long ranged weapons you are likely to be fighting.

Unfortunately, however, I find the mini to be pretty ugly.
« Last Edit: 09 May 2015, 11:05:06 by Getz »

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glitterboy2098

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One of the novels Flashpoint describes a Kathil Militia pilot exchanging something for jump jets. I don't remember correctly what he exchanged but I experimented in MM with it and it solved a couple of problems with mobility.

Lovely article and one of my top favorite IS mechs
i don't remember if they mentioned what he exchanged, a quick reread missed any mention. but the mech in question never had medium lasers mentioned, so odds are it freed up at least 2 tons for JJ's by dropping those. further JJ's could be acheived by dropping a ton of ammo, or dropping one or two heatsinks. personally i'd drop one ton of ammo and one DHS, so it can still jump and fire both LL's without heat issues.. you have to husband your guass ammo a bit more but plenty of units get by with only 16 shots.
« Last Edit: 09 May 2015, 15:33:45 by glitterboy2098 »

Tyler Jorgensson

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i don't remember if they mentioned what he exchanged, a quick reread missed any mention. but the mech in question never had medium lasers mentioned, so odds are it freed up at least 2 tons for JJ's by dropping those. further JJ's could be acheived by dropping a ton of ammo, or dropping one or two heatsinks. personally i'd drop one ton of ammo and one DHS, so it can still jump and fire both LL's without heat issues.. you have to husband your guass ammo a bit more but plenty of units get by with only 16 shots.

Nope later on in the book he uses them in the very last battle. Which I super awkward as we'll cause theirs also a scene where he's bathing in infernos jetting and large lasering things and not going kaboom.

(I reread it after this article: Corp Richard Smith)

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One of the novels Flashpoint describes a Kathil Militia pilot exchanging something for jump jets. I don't remember correctly what he exchanged but I experimented in MM with it and it solved a couple of problems with mobility.

Lovely article and one of my top favorite IS mechs

I'm almost certain Cassandra Liao was piloting a jump capable Cestus during the St Ives war.
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Wrangler

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I have never understood why they didnt like the JumpJet version or at least fix it.  I know it had a gauss rifle..

Anyways, it was a fun ride. The MUL does note the Cestus (Allard-Liao) variant, but not much else.
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The 6Z variant with 2 PPCs sounds like a mini-Warhammer. And it has more armor than the Warhammer while maintaining the same speed. Wow. Nice.

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If you could make a IIC version what would do to the design?

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If you could make a IIC version what would do to the design?
Clan spec XL engine to reduce vulnerability to torso destruction. Clan Gauss Rifle to free weight. Extended range lasers instead of regular ones. Add jump jets for additional mobility.

Tyler Jorgensson

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I've made IIC versions with straight out Clan swaps and the thing becomes a heat hog for sure. Basically all the tonnage you gain you put straight into DHS. Boosting it up to a 5/8 means Endo-Steel and FF armor, while adding JJ means taking DHS away and a ton of Gauss ammo.

It's tricky because you lose the famous heat dissipation of the design and give it more raw firepower (on the assumption that you keep it exactly like the original).

Now an Omni design IMO would have a standard prime variant, something with a LBX-20, obviously a model with dual ER PPC's, somewhere the Crusaders would have made a Heavy Laser monstrosity, and maybe a LRM support (strip the Gauss for MORE DHS and a pair of LRM's?) : I just feel that the 4/6 speed wouldn't fit in to well for many Clans.

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Should we take this discussion to a workshop thread?
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Send a link please

Tyler Jorgensson

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Sorry my bad....

Cestus is a great machine and this was a very helpful article.... nothing to see here: finally got myself a model with the readout to play in my games: gonna start fielding it soon.

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The Cestus isn't a mech that really caught my eye when I first got 3058.  It is of course a quality mech, but in that book being quality isn't really enough to make a mech stand out; the best 58 mechs pretty much set the world on fire, and the Cestus falls short of that admittedly high mark.

I think what really made me take notice was it's repeated use in fiction, and by sympathetic characters (at least to my mind).  Of course, the fact that so many of these characters use modified jumping variants has colored the mech in my mind.  The jumping at least makes the mech different from mechs like the Dragon Fire (I'm still waiting for a good use of it in the fiction, by the way, even if I think it deserves to be in the conversation for best IS heavy mech, period) and as someone who favors jumping personal it does give me perhaps more empathy for the characters than it might otherwise have.

Design wise, I think it still leaves a lot on the table.  Sure, a GR backed by two LLs along with stout armor is no poor package, but for my money I'd have seen the LLs as ERs (to better match the range of the Gauss), probably at the expense of the MPLs being traded for heatsinks.  Though I'm the sort of crazy person who favored the PPC packing 6Z (reminds me of the old Rifleman D, but with DHS and armor), which to my mind is more at home wading is a little closer and risking a bit of heat in mid range.

Of course, I'd take a jumper over any of those weapons fixes.  I suppose I need to either join some mercenaries or go to Solaris.
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MoneyLovinOgre4Hire

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I think what really made me take notice was it's repeated use in fiction, and by sympathetic characters (at least to my mind).  Of course, the fact that so many of these characters use modified jumping variants has colored the mech in my mind.  The jumping at least makes the mech different from mechs like the Dragon Fire (I'm still waiting for a good use of it in the fiction, by the way, even if I think it deserves to be in the conversation for best IS heavy mech, period) and as someone who favors jumping personal it does give me perhaps more empathy for the characters than it might otherwise have.

How many times has the Dragon Fire even made it into the fiction?  The only two times I can remember were in the Combine vs Blood Spirit fight in Prince of Havoc and a single match where Mike Searcy piloted one (modified to carry a Light Gauss Rifle and a Defiance Disintegrator LB 20-X) for a single match.

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Iron Mongoose

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That's all that comes to my mind, though it's probably got a few mentions in passing as small parts of larger battles, and the Solaris model is just ridiculous, since the weapon swaps are pretty diametric in their changes in range; the Cestus in the very same book has not only a better modification, but would probably win a fight with it, which I don't think a basic Cestus would claim over a basic Dragon Fire.  That said, I think the opportunity for either to get a prominent feature has probably passed, which I suppose is good for the Cestus and the jumpjets that everyone will probably always remember it as having.
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