Hauberk Battle Armor - Technical Readout 3075 page 37
The Hauberk was something of a game changer when it first appeared; a Battle Armor design which presented a significant long range threat, able to reach out twenty one hexes and deliver a friendly little hello to its foes. Originally appearing in MechWarrior Dark Age - for which it shall be forgiven due to its sheer excellence - it has become a linchpin of the AFFS' impressive and diverse Battle Armor corps.
First seen in real BattleTech in Record Sheets MechWarrior Dark Age, the Hauberk is another of those suits that tends to make the discerning Battle Armor player squeal with delight, utter something un-utterable or cackle maniacally, depending upon their temperament and faction. Inspired by and developed from Clan Goliath Scorpion's Undine, the Hauberk takes the Clan suit's one-shot LRM5 to its logical conclusion, by mounting it on the biggest chassis possible so that as many reloads as possible can be added. This one change, as simple as it might sound, is what makes the Hauberk so dangerous; a single LRM salvo is little more than a nasty surprise, but when it's followed by another, and another and yet more, that's when even the largest 'Mechs and tanks have to take notice.
The history of the Hauberk is somewhat convoluted, beginning in the Clan Homeworlds. In 3068 the Diamond Sharks surprised the other Clans by challenging the Scorpions for the Undine design, the first and only Clan to express an interest in the specialist design. After a number of Trials, the Sharks finally succeeded and then proceeded to apparently ignore the design, with no examples seen operating in the Touman at the time, leaving many wondering just why they bothered. The Federated Suns at least knew the answer, having offered to trade for copies of the Undine, in the hope of fielding it for themselves, although that proved to be impractical. It's open to question whether the Sharks acquired the Undine in the hope of finding a buyer or whether they did so after receiving the Suns' request, but if the canny Clan traders had thought that they were getting the better half of the deal, they didn't take into account the capabilities of NAIS. jymset: Unlike sillybrit, I think it's very clear what the Sharks were thinking, and that they definitely made a great sale. My favourite fluff regarding the Hauberk is actually in 3058U's Undine write-up, p. 48: Despite having a water totem, "many were surprised when Clan Diamond Shark aggressively pursued the acquisition of the Undine in 3068. [...] To date, the Diamond Sharks have not fielded the Undine at any of their holdings, leading some among the Clans to wonder why they went through so much trouble to acquire the armor to begin with." Everything the Sharks do has a single target: the bottom line. Clearly they were keenly aware of the Undine's value as a technological trade item. The second paragraph in the Hauberk's write-up, TRO 3075, p. 36, makes it clear the Undine was delivered to order.
Not only did the Sharks receive "significant concessions", they also had their watershed precedent of fulfilling an order, with a non-border state, none the less. A year before the Homeworld situation reached FUBAR point, too. As can be read in Experimental Technical Readout Davion, the Sharks also found themselves a very willing customer, one who was happy to come back again and again. Beyond the Suns, Technical Readout 3085 tells the full story of the Clan's astounding commercial success in the following years.
Now that we've had that digression, we wanted to read how the Sharks gave the Davions the means to a fearful armor...
After examining the Undine suits that had been traded by the Sharks, the scientists and engineers at NAIS realized that the basic design could be adapted to develop a whole new Battle Armor concept. Bulked up to an Assault chassis and adding stealthy armor plating, something not favored among the Clans, while stripping out the Underwater Maneuvering Unit and exchanging the Clantech laser for a less advanced model, NAIS came up with the Hauberk in just six months. Thanks to the inconvenience of an ongoing Blakist invasion on New Avalon, building of the prototypes and finishing off the development project was done by GM of Salem, with the first production suits ready by 3070, making the Hauberk one of the fastest developed Battle Armor suits.
The heart of the Hauberk is its backpack-mounted LRM5 launcher supplied by half a dozen salvos, which makes a four-suit squad the equivalent of an LRM20 with a ton of ammo. While some players might prefer fewer tubes and more ammo, the number of shots already available provides a reasonable endurance, giving players the freedom to take marginal shots that they might otherwise skip. Unlike the Clantech Undine, the Hauberk's Inner Sphere LRMs do suffer from the six hex minimum range, that players soon learned to compensate for by deploying their Hauberk squads in loose formations rather than concentrated. By keeping squads five or more hexes apart, that allows them to cover each other when an enemy attempts to close the range to exploit the LRM's poor accuracy over short distances.
A note should be made about the type of munitions the Hauberk can load up for its LRMs. Under Total War rules the only allowed warhead types are the regular missiles and torpedoes, with the latter not really much use to the Hauberk. Clan LRMs can also be the multipurpose type, which can be used as both missiles and torpedoes, while SRMs from both tech bases can also be loaded with Inferno warheads, but that's it. Many players do allow Battle Armor to use the wide variety of other warheads, such as Thunder or Mine Clearance Munitions, but it's always best to check with the other players first when building a force for a scenario.
Backing up the LRMs on the Hauberk's right arm is a standard Small Laser. At the time the Hauberk was designed, it would have been a respectable secondary weapon, but even then it was showing its age. Despite the respectable damage, the Small Laser is really a poor choice for a suit like the Hauberk, which lacks the mobility to make up for the laser's short range. A swifter opponent can easily hover at four or five hexes away, keeping out of range of the laser and forcing the Hauberk to suffer minimum range penalties on its LRMs. Something like a Light Recoilless Rifle or the Suns' signature Magshot would have been better choices, although the latter's bulk would have required some minor design changes.
Possessing the bare minimum mobility for Battle Armor, the Hauberk was never going to survive by its ability to dodge incoming fire, so the designers made it stealthy instead. Clad in Improved Stealth composites, the Hauberk is a difficult target to hit, inflicting up to a +3 penalty at long range against non-conventional infantry attackers. When shots do get through, the armor is a reasonable eleven points, which does at least protect the suit from one-shot kills from the likes of PPCs, although it fails to match the armor belt of the Kanazuchi. Although a little light for an Assault chassis, the combination of stealthiness and the LRM battery do make up for the armor, and with a wise player deploying his or her Hauberks into cover, many opponents would be lucky to hit the Battle Armor in the first place.
Rounding out the hardware, the Hauberk has an effectively useless Battle Claw and an equally questionable Power Pack, which is meant to extend the endurance of the suit. Only of any use in the roleplaying game, although the Power Pack hopefully might get some benefit once Interstellar Operations comes out, I tend to just look at them as cosmetic flavor, as well as a waste of 40kg and an equipment slot. jymset: I always err on the side of flavour, so once again I don't mind this at all. For that weight, you can't even upgrade the armour, and that underlines one thing: the Hauberk is quite the maximised design for what it does. And it even had the weight for design elegance. Sillybrit's point about the laser stands absolutely though, and by combining a swap to one of the longer ranged guns, then dropping the power pack for a 12th point of armour would have been groovy. That said, beyond actual design aesthetics, as I recall the Hauberk precedes the true proliferation of 2nd generation Battle Armor weapons ever so slightly. Record Sheets MechWarrior Dark Age was released before Combat Equipment (even though the writer - MacAttack - was the same for the RS' Hauberk, much of CE, and the BA construction rules in the CBT Companion). So there's that to bear in mind.
But the funny by-effect is that I have a perpetual bad conscience for not including power packs in my BA designs, especially those featuring direct fire weapons and extra ammo. The Hauberk's "cosmetic flavor" shows that great designs can both do the min/max thing, yet also ooze style.
Using Hauberks is fairly simple, without much need for finesse: find some cover with a decent field of fire, preferably in decent supporting range of similar covering terrain and then just camp. You're not going to get much benefit for moving, except to shuffle ponderously into range of a target that's tantalizingly a little beyond your reach. Ideally, in defensive battles try to set up the suits in concealed positions if using the Hidden Unit rules, giving them a little extra protection until they start to let rip with the LRMs. On the attack, you'll have to use APCs to bring them to the battlefield - there's no Mechanized Battle Armor capability for these big fellas - and given their fire support role you should find it easy to deploy them in safety, well away from enemy fire.
Given that the Grenadier has got its torso-mounted Modular Weapon Mount back, it's not unreasonable to ask just why the Suns would have bothered developing the Hauberk instead of just introducing an LRM pack as an alternative configuration. Although the Grenadier has the payload capacity, it doesn't have the slots to mount as many tubes and reloads, which would be much less effective, so it's understandable that the AFFS felt the need to optimize the concept, even if that meant a whole new suit. The Grenadier does make for an excellent guardian for the Hauberk, with the threat of its heavy SRM battery able to deter some enemies from attempting to close inside the LRM's minimum range. Similarly, the Infiltrator Mk II makes for another good partner, this time as a mobile spotter to search out the targets for the Hauberk's missile salvos, giving the AFFS a superb trio of stealthy Battle Armor that together form a formidable force. jymset: I held my breath during sillybrit's "linchpin" introduction, and good thing too. He's absolutely right about everything, up there in the opening paragraph, and down here. While he laid it down objectively, what about the gut test: how impressive would the Hauberk be without the Grenadier? And vice versa. The two designs are complemental, each one offering what the other lacks. Toughness and reach in the case of the Hauberk, (relative) quickness and flexibility in the Grenadier. The mutual existence turns them from good designs into monsters, fully justifying the expense and effort spent by the AFFS in fielding their family of Battle Armor.
Not unexpectedly, General Motors didn't just blindly churn out the Hauberk design that they'd inherited from the now lost NAIS. Reacting to the need for superior close quarters firepower to improve the suit's capabilities in urban combat without just reinventing the Grenadier, GM's engineers came up with the all-gun Hauberk II in 3072. Swapping the LRM5 for a pair of Magshots, the new variant has solid direct fire capability out to nine hexes, without any ammo limits in the BattleTech tactical game. With the weight saved, the Small Laser has been upgraded to the pulse version, enhancing accuracy and anti-infantry firepower, which isn't the best use of the mass available, and is even less so now that Detachable Weapon Pack technology is available.
The Hauberk II makes for a viable alternative to fill the role of the Grenadier as a close quarters combatant. The two suits each have their advantages, with the Grenadier having greater weapon flexibility and speed against the Hauberk II's superior stealth and armor protection, so it's really a matter of personal preference as to which one you chose. The Hauberk II's twin Magshots make it a good anti-armor vehicle, with a decent chance of achieving a crit due to the multiple hits inflicted per Turn, plus the freedom to shoot without ammo worries. The Small Pulse Laser is typically less used due to its range, unless the Hauberk II is lucky enough to get the drop on the enemy, or the foe is willing to close the range. With all guns hitting, on average a Hauberk II squad is just to going to exceed the all-important twenty points of damage to force a 'Mech to make a Piloting roll, but more typically it's just going to be those pair of Magshots, with the resulting damage falling short even if the rolls on the Cluster Hit Table give a perfect result. jymset: When a Small Pulse Laser on a Battle Armor suit is its liability, you know you're onto something. This is easily one of my favourite Inner Sphere Battle Armor designs this side of the Nephilim. I could happily sit here for 15 minutes and type out onomatopeia for "drool", but shan't for the sake of mutual sanity. Sillybrit's got it covered and you be the judge yourself. That said, here is the trump card: BV 63. Nuff said, I continue to be in love forever.
Experimental Technical Readout Davion gave us the Hauberk U15, a Mixed Tech variant that eventually leads to the Commando variant, although unfortunately the U15 is illegal due to incorrect rounding of the installed Detachable Weapon Packs. First built in 3076 by Tech Sergeant Tim Balke from a mixture of broken Hauberks, Clantech weaponry and salvaged Word hardware, only four Hauberk U15s exist, being more of a hobby project than a true prototype program. Starting by switching the Improved Stealth armor for the same thickness of Mimetic armor taken from Purifiers and Nephilims, this gives the Hauberk U15 a much superior stealth capability than the original Hauberk, being independent of range and also effecting conventional infantry. Planning to install Detachable Weapon Packs, Balke upgraded the suit's motive systems to double the speed and also saved weight by stripping out all extraneous equipment, namely the Power Pack and Battle Claw.
Balke added a Clan ECM suite, that when used in Ghost Target mode can help make the suit impossible to hit at any range, although the Tech Sergeant probably intended it for jamming Blakist C3I networks or helping the suit to hide when laying in ambush - although most foes who detect a one-hex ECM field are going to realize that there's Battle Armor hiding there. A trio of Clan weapons also found their way into the homebrewed design, with an SRM2 loaded with 4 shots per tube and a pair of lasers, both installed on Detachable Weapon Packs. On the right arm, the Hauberk U15 mounts a Micro Pulse Laser, matching the capability of the Hauberk II's Small Pulse Laser at less than half the mass, while on the left arm the suit was fitted with an ER Small Laser, giving it the punch of a Medium Laser, albeit at two-thirds the range. Rounding out the armament with a third Detachable Weapon Pack, a Magshot provides the only Inner Sphere contribution to the firepower, giving the suit a sustained fire capability to back up the SRMs at longer ranges.
A superb camper, the Hauberk U15's armament does make it somewhat the jack of all trades. When all the guns can be brought to bear, there's enough firepower to allow a squad to wipe out two platoons of Jump Infantry. Against armor, the multitude of hits increases the odds of an all-important crit, and against 'Mechs the Hauberk U15 can easily inflict over twenty points of damage, thus forcing a Piloting check. With the added flexibility offered by the possibility of using Infernos instead of standard SRMs, the U15 is a surprisingly viable combatant despite the eclectic nature of its armament. jymset: This suit is also a proof of concept of what to do with Detachable Weapon Packs. It illustrates how a single DWP is often not worth it, because the extra mass spent on motive gear to compensate for the speed loss is often higher than the DWP gain. The first DWP thus actually costs a lot of weight, but any beyond it are free gain. But for designs such as the U15, there is another huge bonus: slots. The DWP reduces the slots of any weapon to 1. This is why the otherwise lightweight MagShot benefits so very much from being DWP-mounted. Remembering what I said about mimetic slots on the Nephilim, this suit is clearly tailor-made. It uses all of its 14 slots, and mounts a hodge-podge of weaponry that gain very different things from DWP but share one important factor: they are good.
Introduced in 3088, the Hauberk Commando was based upon the U15s built by Tech Sergeant Balke, although without the Clan technology that made that variant difficult if not impossible to mass produce. The overall format remained unchanged, with one detachable laser on each arm, a shoulder-mounted detachable Magshot, and a missile launcher. Unable to match the performance of the Micro laser with Inner Sphere technology, the designers instead added a second ER Small Laser on the right arm, increasing range at the cost of accuracy and anti-infantry firepower. Less capable than the Clantech version, the twin ER Small Lasers provide a three point punch out to five hexes; this sounds decent until you recall that a Medium Recoilless Rifle does better for less mass. The SRM launcher also suffered due to the increased mass of the Inner Sphere weaponry, being downgraded into a one-shot version, which massively lowers its utility.
Less capable than the U15 overall, the Hauberk Commando is still a solid Assault suit, just not quite as groundbreaking as the original Hauberk. The Magshot allows it to at least plink away at an opponent that's attempting to whittle down the Commando while remaining out of range of the lasers, while the Mimetic armor make it difficult or even impossible for direct fire to harm the suit from beyond the reach of the Magshot. Lacking speed, the Commando works best as a defensive unit, although slow steady assaults are also possible, preferably when backed up by more mobile supporting forces. jymset: I was going to add a "very yes" to sillybrit's "lackluster but still good" appraisal of the Commando, but realised he'd said it all. However, I then remembered a very important footnote: BV 74. Yet it's a suit that's very high quality and I'd always pay the price to use it. It simply again illustrates just how durned good the Hauberk II is for what it costs.
Now a key component of the AFFS Battle Armor corps, the Hauberk has come a long way from a suit that started off as a sucker trade from the Diamond Sharks. Whether the original variant or the close combat versions introduced as the fighting of the Jihad grew more brutal, through to the Commando, which is at least a step in the right direction for the slow speed Assault format, the Hauberk remains a powerful signature design for the Suns.