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Author Topic: Mech of the Week: Ocelot  (Read 1514 times)

Moonsword

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Mech of the Week: Ocelot
« on: 04 December 2022, 10:44:07 »
BattleMech of the Week: Ocelot

Welcome back! Been a while since I did one of these, hopefully I still remember how. Because no one stopped me, I'm fulfilling a request to cover the Ocelot. In the history of BattleTech, the Ocelot was one of the new BattleMechs introduced by WizKids for MechWarrior: Dark Age, a time of plastic ClickyTech hailed as a golden age by some, an abomination by others, and "Wait, that existed?" by a lot of the rest. Several unique pilot cards existed, with miniatures for several factions, a degree of intricacy I'm not really well equipped to explain, but the MWDA models serve as a foundation for what would come later. Strap in, BattleMech fans, for now you behold the Ocelot in all its glory!



Wait, that's an ocelot. This is the Ocelot!



During their relocation to the Draconis Combine when their decision to follow their visions into the Second Star League was not greeted with enthusiasm by their neighbors in the Clan Homeworlds, a move that would in no way come back to bite them on their collective fuzzy butt, the Nova Cats dragged along a collection of Smoke Jaguar scientists who were taken as isorla. (And you thought the recruiter at career day gave you the hard sell!) After another vision that these scientists would be necessary for the Cats' symbolic rebirth, Khan Santin West gave them a couple of managers and a mission to produce a new, viable BattleMech.

What resulted was the Phoenix Hawk the next Horned Owl revival a BattleMech with a time-tested combination of armament and mobility taking a few cues from the Pack Hunter. Named for a small, agile, spotty, adorable jungle cat in Latin America, the Ocelot clocks in at 35 tons, and when you think about it, the name fits. Every single Ocelot has a single heavy energy weapon, typically a large laser, in the left torso and a pair of medium lasers on the right arm, and they all go 6/9/6. The ferro-fibrous armor is solid, 6 to 6.5 tons, and it's arranged sensibly. It's a light, it's not that tough, but all the front plates are above 10 points. The main problem I have with the 2 and 4 is someone thought it was a good idea to thin the center torso down from 16 to 14 instead of, say, thinning the legs to 15, so that they can still stop a Gauss rifle or an ER PPC without going internal, but let's be honest here, it's a 35 tonner. Your main defense is your TMM, which means you don't want to stop moving. Trading blows is for Steiner's wall of steel; you're a stalking cat, so act like one! (Chasing wiggling bits of string is optional.)

The results of this were presented to saKhan Devalis, who was initially unimpressed but after taking for a live-fire test, he found it very acceptable and ordered it into service. If you're wondering why you're not familiar with that, it's because the anecdote of him pronouncing it to merge the claws of battle with the warrior spirit is only found in Jihad Hot Spots: 3070, a book old enough the record sheets are from HeavyMetal Pro.


Where the variants differ significantly is the details of the armament and supporting equipment. The first one to hit production carries a heavy large laser and a pair of ERMLs, marking it out as an infighter. You lack even the pretension of long-range capabilities on the modern mapsheet but the Clan HLL packs the kind of wallop no one wants to get hit with and with 15 double heat sinks, even an alpha strike isn't crippling. It's not "tape the triggers down", either – you'll hit a +4 overheat – but a Nova Prime this is not. A light active probe rounds out the package with a bit of short-range warning and detection capability. Considering this is a fast, aggressive 'Mech well-suited to hit and run tactics, the probe makes getting ambushed in turn less likely.

The next model up, logically named the Ocelot 2, trades in the heavy laser along with the probe, a half-ton of armor, and a heat sink for an ER PPC. Personally, I think this is a better weapon setup, but I've never really found the HLL as appealing as the Clan ERLL, LPL, or ER PPC, so opinions can vary. What makes this one great is the ability to either snipe at range or to close and use the jump jets to deliver a barrage to the enemy's flank.

That's a capability shared by the 3, introduced in 3075. The ER large laser is one of premier sniping weapons in the game and a pair of heavy medium lasers make for a formidable array once the Ocelot 3 closes in. Tying the lasers into a targeting computer makes things much more accurate. Then someone added an ECM, plus the light active probe from the original model is still here. It runs hotter if you alpha with only 12 freezers, but this is a solid performer. Sticking to just the ERLL and a single HML is refreshingly cool, too.

The last variant is also one of the ones featured in MWDA materials and dated to just before the Second Combine-Dominion War, opting for a single large and two medium pulse lasers. If that sounds familiar, you now know why I made a crack about them building a Horned Owl earlier, but like the Horned Owl, this setup just works. It works even better here with an extra couple of heat sinks and the Ocelot's ferro-fibrous plating.



Tactically, the Ocelot is a lot like a Phoenix Hawk, whether you're running one or staring one down. 6/9/6 isn't as fast as it's used to be but it's still sporty enough that even something like a Spider can't count on being able to outmaneuver one unless that Spider is in full retreat. Most of the variants can play sniper games and all of them have good fire endurance with a modicum of planning ahead at short range, but where the Ocelot comes up short is sheer striking power. A lot of Clan BattleMechs can overwhelm a foe with brutal, shocking rounds of fire. An Ocelot is more suited to using its maneuverability to play the angles, create favorable odds on the targeting numbers, and control who can shoot at it in return – a straight up exchange of fire is playing a game the Ocelot's armor won't stand up to for long. If you're using one, plan ahead and make sure you've got an escape route handy if things don't work the way you want them to. If you're opposing one, either have the capability to deal with its targeting numbers or be prepared to suck it into the phone booth, and don't ignore that speed – it only takes one bad turn for it to punch several good-sized holes in your back plates. Solid armor or not, this is still an XLFE light, and that means it's even more fragile than usual if the armor gets breached.

So that's what I think. What about the rest of you?

MUL Link:
http://masterunitlist.info/Unit/Filter?Name=Ocelot

garhkal

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Re: Mech of the Week: Ocelot
« Reply #1 on: 04 December 2022, 16:19:02 »
Are those partial wings on it's back?
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MoneyLovinOgre4Hire

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Re: Mech of the Week: Ocelot
« Reply #2 on: 04 December 2022, 16:31:52 »
No, they're just standard Dark Age kibble.  There aren't any variants with Partial Wings.

I was looking through my minis collection a few weeks ago when I found my Ocelot mini and realized I've never played it.  My player group doesn't do a lot of Dark Age or Jihad-focused games and nobody seems to particularly like the Nova Cats.  I've been meaning to set up a game to try it out.
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glitterboy2098

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Re: Mech of the Week: Ocelot
« Reply #3 on: 04 December 2022, 17:04:58 »
No, they're just standard Dark Age kibble.  There aren't any variants with Partial Wings.
that sounds like fodder for a design thread..

Colt Ward

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Re: Mech of the Week: Ocelot
« Reply #4 on: 05 December 2022, 11:12:19 »
Are those partial wings on it's back?

Yeah, honestly it is not too different visually than the Spider got for it's partial wing MWDA versions.  If the design is ever re-visited, I doubt it, then it might be something we see.

The Ocelot also suffers, IMO, because it matches the weight of the OTHER Nova Cat light design in MWDA- the Arbalest.  The mini-Dervish is just a more survivable light design.  Never mind that the Foxes also had the Crimson Hawk out too.  Trying to remember which one shows up with a POV character on Helm to get gunned down by the Wolves.

I have one of these minis sitting on my desk that my wife bought for a Christmas present when she was not sure what minis to get.  Being a MWDA design it had to end up pretty wide-spread so when I get to painting it, the Ocelot will probably end up either Stormhammers or maybe Crusader Wolf.
Colt Ward
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Tyler Jorgensson

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Re: Mech of the Week: Ocelot
« Reply #5 on: 05 December 2022, 13:24:25 »
To me it always reminded me of a faster Clan Panther. I think the newer variants of the Panther seem to be outclassed by the Ocelot, but they both fill the same role: light sniper. The art isn’t too bad either for the era and it seems to resemble a Panther too. I do wish they had an updated version with an Improved Heavy Large Laser, or maybe one with a VSP or Re-Laser. But I like it overall.

Jellico

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Re: Mech of the Week: Ocelot
« Reply #6 on: 05 December 2022, 14:23:37 »
The Nova Cats are full of Packhunters too. It was a popular niche for a while.

VensersRevenge

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Re: Mech of the Week: Ocelot
« Reply #7 on: 06 December 2022, 20:32:13 »
Great to see you posting articles again Moonsword. I've always preferred the Packhunter  for light jumping Clan second liners with a headcapper, but the Ocelot is certainly a valuable edition. I certainly am willing to salvage them from the Dracs and help avenge the Nova Cats.
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Scrollreader

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Re: Mech of the Week: Ocelot
« Reply #8 on: 07 December 2022, 06:39:14 »
I'm always glad to see an article on a mech I'm unfamiliar with.

  I agree the high end of Light Mechs (30-35) is pretty crowded, but I think it's something like a requirement in the current threat environment.  Anything smaller is just too fragile.

I just can't get over the looks, though.  While some mechs benefit from the 'low resource/resource cheap' semi industrial look of the DA stuff, this is definitely not one of them.  And then on top of the 'assembled from empty Amazon boxes' look, those weird rear foot extensions, massive shinguards, and fake wings are really not doing it for me.

JimberWolf

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Re: Mech of the Week: Ocelot
« Reply #9 on: 07 December 2022, 12:15:04 »
I’ve always thought of the Ocelot as the middle portion of a design evolution seen in the trio of 35-ton standard BattleMechs designed by the Nova Cats in the 31st century:

The Jenner IIC variants (1-4) have blistering speed and impressive jump capacity but generally focus on sandblasting or have objectively anemic firepower and use positive thinking for armor.

The Ocelot series fixes the Jenner IIC's anemic punch and poor armor but sacrifices speed and some of the jump capacity to get there.

The Morrigan line (at least variants 1 and 2) attempts to split the difference between the two. The Morrigan’s armor leans towards the Ocelot’s end of the spectrum and its ground speed approaches the Jenner IIC’s. It even retains the Ocelot’s approach to firepower but at the expense of jump jets.

All in all, I think the Ocelot is the most useful of the bunch. It has a flexibility that lets it work nicely with both the older and newer machines in mixed light stars if playing a pure Nova Cat force. With Jenner IICs, the Ocelot can open up holes for the older sandblasters to exploit. With Morrigans, it can use its jump jets to go after prey the ground-bound ‘Mech can’t reach or exploit terrain to execute elaborate pincer movements.

Moonsword

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Re: Mech of the Week: Ocelot
« Reply #10 on: 09 December 2022, 11:17:54 »
To me it always reminded me of a faster Clan Panther. I think the newer variants of the Panther seem to be outclassed by the Ocelot, but they both fill the same role: light sniper. The art isn’t too bad either for the era and it seems to resemble a Panther too. I do wish they had an updated version with an Improved Heavy Large Laser, or maybe one with a VSP or Re-Laser. But I like it overall.

That's not a bad comparison, either.  I'm a big fan of the Phoenix Hawk's looks and utility, so anything matching its speed and basic armament profile tends to immediately make me think of the Pixie.

I'm always glad to see an article on a mech I'm unfamiliar with.

  I agree the high end of Light Mechs (30-35) is pretty crowded, but I think it's something like a requirement in the current threat environment.  Anything smaller is just too fragile.

I just can't get over the looks, though.  While some mechs benefit from the 'low resource/resource cheap' semi industrial look of the DA stuff, this is definitely not one of them.  And then on top of the 'assembled from empty Amazon boxes' look, those weird rear foot extensions, massive shinguards, and fake wings are really not doing it for me.

I wasn't actually familiar with it either - this was a request from someone in the thread when I said, "Hey, I'd like to write an article."  As far as the looks, I tend to agree with you that it doesn't really do much for me.

Great to see you posting articles again Moonsword.

Glad to be back!  I'll try not to disappear quite so long this time.

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Re: Mech of the Week: Ocelot
« Reply #11 on: 09 December 2022, 13:02:01 »
In terms of looks, I prefer the Crimson Hawk, which has a similar 'two big guns' armament, but has the nifty keen 'over the shoulder' mount.

Colt Ward

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Re: Mech of the Week: Ocelot
« Reply #12 on: 09 December 2022, 13:42:44 »
In terms of looks, I prefer the Crimson Hawk, which has a similar 'two big guns' armament, but has the nifty keen 'over the shoulder' mount.

The Crimson Hawks were either a big gun on each shoulder, or one on the shoulder and one small in the arm.

But yeah, I liked it better than the Ocelot- just wish it was faster.  Both these designs, Ocelot & Crimson Hawk, are too slow in a modern battlefield.  The HLL Ocelot really suffers on that count b/c it HAS to get inside weapons ranges to fire.
Colt Ward
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XenopusTex

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Re: Mech of the Week: Ocelot
« Reply #13 on: 09 December 2022, 23:46:19 »
The 1 is an example of a terrible weapon on a mediocre 'mech.  I'm sure that khan could make it perform well, but aren't they supposed to be able to take down an IS assault company with an introtech Urbanmech?  Terrible range and a built-in to-hit handicap on a slowish 'mech.  Wanna jump?  Well, enjoy the to-hit penalty stacked on the jumping penalty.  The SJ scientist who came up with that mess should have been taken up to a tall place and hooked up to advanced clan medical equipment to keep them alive to suffer and then flayed alive as a message to the clan of the penalty for abject failure; pretty sure the SJ folks would understand.  Or, force feed the tech and keep exposing him to the heavy laser's radiation spikes to make him suffer and die from the radiation poisoning.  As laser pistol shot to the back of the head is too easy for that level of failure. 

The torso armour on the 2 and 4 is very much meh. 

Overall makes me wonder if the SJ crowd didn't try to obtain "mystical experiences" by packing the pipe with kitty droppings and lighting it up.  Of course given that the Nova Cats make decisions more-or-less based on experiences while on hallucinogens, bad decisions seem appropriate.  Looks like the Goliath Scorpions managed to get the gift of fiat while the Nova Cat "mysticism" seems to have played out about as well as other groups that made decisions based on "visions."

I could have sworn that the Nova Cats had other options for light 'mechs than this thing...

MoneyLovinOgre4Hire

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Re: Mech of the Week: Ocelot
« Reply #14 on: 09 December 2022, 23:59:20 »
The Nova Cats didn't bother with psychotropics.  They got their hallucinations via sleep deprivation and fasting.

And while they did have other light mechs, they rolled it out after the first Combine-Dominion War when their forces were depleted and the Ocelot was a relatively cheap machine they could start cranking out quickly as a stop-gap.
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Re: Mech of the Week: Ocelot
« Reply #15 on: 13 December 2022, 10:21:17 »
Other light Nova Cat mechs in production were the Arbalest, Morrigan, Jenner IIC, and Artic Cheetah.

The Arbalest is notably also in the 'cheap light we can crank out' category, although that one dates to the Jihad era. The only thing Clan spec on it is the weapons loadout.

Colt Ward

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Re: Mech of the Week: Ocelot
« Reply #16 on: 13 December 2022, 10:26:29 »
The Arbalest is what happens when someone leaves the Dervish in the laundry too long.
Colt Ward
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"We come in peace, please ignore the bloodstains."

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parable

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Re: Mech of the Week: Ocelot
« Reply #17 on: 29 December 2022, 02:24:54 »
This 'mech plays to the CNC Dance Factory's focuses of the era, even if it's not perfectly optimized (or pretty).  Fast, light, beam-intensive, easy to produce, and not overly-reliant on advanced tech.  It also fits with Nova Cat mysticism.  A fast, jump-heavy, non-TC'd HL 'mech is likely to waste heat and firepower with giant to-hit penalties, but the Nova Cats cultivate and believe in the strength of visions and subconscious probability calculation.  The Ocelot is, in a lot of ways, a 'mech that relies on long shots and gambles paying off (though I feel this way about most lights), and so fits the Nova Cat ethos of fighting with timing, luck, and skill in near-equal measure.  tl;dr: it's definitely flawed, but it's pretty darn good and represents Clan Nova Cat's mindset well.

As a mild aside, the 3 is my favorite variant, but I am partial to the CERLL and the HML.
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