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Author Topic: Battle Armor of the Week - Kanazuchi  (Read 5475 times)

sillybrit

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Battle Armor of the Week - Kanazuchi
« on: 09 November 2011, 14:18:36 »
Kanazuchi Assault Battle Armor - Technical Readout 3058U page 39



     The Kanazuchi Assault Battle Armor is one of those landmark designs that just takes your breath away when you first encounter it, whether as a player of the game or in-universe. Nowadays, we have so many other Assault suits, and even some of the more powerful Heavy designs, that it can sometimes be hard to remember that the Kanazuchi was a jaw dropper when first published in Field Manual: Draconis Combine, with the next most powerful Battle Armor being the Elemental. That this new monster was an Inner Sphere development rather than the latest Clan hammer to smack us upside the head perhaps only heightened its impact, and to this day it remains a powerful combatant even when compared to far more advanced Battle Armor, a testament to the strength of its design.

     The first Assault design to be published and the first developed by a Successor State, the Kanazuchi - which was also the first BattleTech design to be nicknamed the Zucchini in my gaming experience - was the last of the suits that were introduced in Field Manual: Draconis Combine to enter service in the DCMS, and represented a jump in capability almost as great as the initial introduction of Battle Armor to the Inner Sphere. Despite the low mobility, the level of firepower and protection that the Combine's engineers had managed to cram into the suit was simply astounding when measured against other designs, especially since by then the Inner Sphere Standard had undergone multiple nerfs and was far less capable than its original incarnation, leaving the Elemental head and shoulders above all the other existing Battle Armor at the time. Apart from one minor change regarding the anti-personnel weapon layout, the Kanazuchi as presented in the Field Manual is the same standard model that appears in Technical Readout 3058U today and every sourcebook in between, although the exchangeable manipulators were only addressed in the Field Manual's color artwork and not in the suit's original description or game statistics.

     The development of the Kanazuchi was a long and torturous affair that at one point appeared a hopeless cause when the DCMS' High Command slashed the budget in 3054, with the design only surviving thanks to the dedication of the project team, who worked for little or no pay to fix the prototype's problems, turning it from an overweight and near immobile deathtrap into a formidable fighting machine. Originally designated the Komodo, the first prototype design can't actually be built using the current rules, being so heavily loaded with weaponry that it sounds more like a light 'Mech than Battle Armor. Supposedly mounting more than a ton of armor, with three lasers, a flamethrower, a pair of missile launchers and a sub-machine gun - as if the other armament weren't enough! - the Komodo could barely move, which would make it an easy kill for an opponent. If that weren't enough, the suit was also found to be difficult to control, leaving its operators exhausted and frequently injuring them. Teetering on the brink of cancellation yet again, the engineers streamlined the design, reducing its weapon payload to more manageable levels and addressing its control issues, with the resulting prototypes finally gaining the approval of the Coordinator and the High Command. At one point during live trials, the revised suit not only survived a direct hit by a Clantech ER Particle Projection Cannon, but even managed to return fire, with the operator suffering little harm from the experience. Impressed by the results, the Coordinator ordered that the budget be tripled so that the suit could be rushed into production as soon as possible and, after some final adjustments, the newly labeled Kanazuchi finally entered service in December 3058.

     Initially few in number, the first Kanazuchis were mostly assigned to defensive units, presumably due to its low speed and the difficulties its high mass would present the available tactical transports of the time. Commanders with access to vehicles like the Maxim (I) Heavy Hover Transport would have been able to use the Kanazuchi in more offensive operations, however, once delivered to the battlefield, the Battle Armor squads would still typically be forced to adopt a tactically defensive stance, unless the enemy was one that they could simply overwhelm. The number of Kanazuchis in DCMS service greatly increased after the conflict with Clan Ghost Bear, suggesting that the design performed well against the Clan troops, that by that time would have been fielding the heavyweight Gnome Battle Armor alongside the venerable Elemental, while Ghost Bear Mechwarriors more used to the limited capabilities of earlier Inner Sphere suits no doubt found the Kanazuchi's firepower and robustness much harder to dismiss. After the 3062-63 war, the Kanazuchi became more common both within the DCMS and to civilians on the street, and it can even be found in the ranks of the Coordinator's own palace guards, the Otomo.

     Unlike most Battle Armor, the Kanazuchi is too large to be worn and instead continues the trend set by the Infiltrator Mk I and Sloth by being piloted like a miniature 'Mech, with the operator - who was often referred to in the early texts as the pilot - sitting in a small cockpit. The suit's size also means that it is unable to climb aboard 'Mechs and vehicles, thereby making it incapable of using Anti-'Mech attacks or Mechanized Battle Armor tactics, and this poor mobility also extended to its ground speed, which matches that of standard foot infantry. These limitations were more than counterbalanced by its heavy firepower and armor, and, by being the first Assault Battle Armor seen within the game, the Kanazuchi set the benchmark for protection for all subsequent designs in the same weight class, being the first suit that could withstand a hit by a Gauss Rifle or Clan ERPPC, weapons that not even the mighty Elemental could survive. The Kanazuchi could also take a pair hits from the more common Clan ER Medium Laser and still keep going, which was again a unique achievement at the time of its introduction.

     With the right arm Medium Laser representing another first, together with the innovative Modular Equipment Adaptor on the left arm, which allowed for a variety of manipulator options, the Combine had greatly broadened the horizons of Battle Armor design for both the Inner Sphere and the Clans. Rounding out the primary armament, a pair of one-shot SRM2s allowed for greater flexibility than the Elemental's multi-shot launcher, since the pilot could either stagger their launch or salvo both simultaneously, or even have one loaded with Infernos and the other with standard missiles. Two Anti-Personnel Weapon Mounts - that were originally described as being interchangeably fitted to either the arms or the body - provide secondary armament in the form of light infantry weaponry such as assault rifles and sub-machine guns, although only one can be used per Turn under the Total War rules, and the default attack is equivalent to a Ballistic Infantry Platoon of the same size as the Kanazuchi squad. Out of the standard manipulator options, the Heavy Battle Claw is the one most likely to used in combat, however it only has an effect in roleplaying scenarios. The alternative manipulator types are also of little or no use in BattleTech tactical games, and although the Industrial Drill does provide a minor boost in Marine Boarding Points, the Salvage Arm is as equally ineffective as the Battle Claw outside of the RPG.

    The Kanazuchi's design is archetypical of the niche role that is best filled by Assault Battle Armor. Barring certain movement options using advanced technology, a Heavy design will actually have more payload for weapons and armor if the Assault attempts to match the speed of the lighter class. The Assault design could still mount more armor than the Heavy suit, most importantly crossing the key threshold of 15 points of armor, but in doing so it will greatly reduce its weapon load, potentially making its armament weaker than even some Medium Battle Armor. Therefore, instead of trying to compete with the mobility of lighter classes, Assault designs should play to their strengths of armor and firepower. Weighed down with both, a simple way of describing and deploying Battle Armor like the Kanazuchi is as mobile pillboxes, using their limited ability to move them into position at key locations, preferably ones with plenty of cover to help reduce the accuracy of incoming fire. The last point is very important given that slow suits have little or no ability to generate Target Movement Modifiers, which they need to compensate for by exploiting terrain features whenever possible.

     Relying upon cover and their thick armor to survive, Assault suits can then concentrate on bringing down any foe that strays within range of their heavy armament, a range that typically extends beyond that of lighter suits. In the case of a Kanazuchi squad, they can strike with the force of a fair sized Light BattleMech or tank out to 9 hexes, and that's just using their Medium Lasers, with their one-shot missiles giving them an extra boost in emergencies or if a golden opportunity presents itself. Compared to Elemental's two SRM salvos, each of which does less damage than the Kanazuchi's Medium Lasers, this was a major improvement in combat endurance when first fielded, and the Kuritan suit's sustained firepower is still in the upper ranks of canon Battle Armor designs. Even in cases where the enemy keeps beyond the Kanazuchi's reach, it can still spot for attacks by other units, while its heavy protection helps it weather any attempts by the opposition to destroy this formidable obstacle. One point to bear in mind is that Kanazuchi squads are relatively cheap in BV terms, in part due to not having to pay for the Anti-'Mech skill, allowing the player to field a Gunnery 0 squad for less than the cost of an AP Gauss Rifle Elemental Point with the Clan standard Gunnery 3 and Anti-'Mech 4.

     For a dozen years, the Kanazuchi remained unchanged, until a rather dubious upgrade was introduced in 3070. While the switch from the one-shot SRM2s to four-shot MRM1s is an improvement in range and endurance, at the expense of accuracy and damage, the Kanazuchi (Upgrade) has fewer possible manipulator options and more importantly has a worse main gun armament, having strangely swapped the Medium Laser for a pair of Support PPCs, that not only reduce the overall damage, but also decreases range. Aside from the loss of performance, that laser is such a signature of the Kanazuchi that it almost feels like sacrilege to have swapped it for a pair of lesser weapons. If anything, I'd call the so called Upgrade model a Downgrade, and it's not a unit I care to take if I have any say in the matter, instead I always chose the original Kanazuchi if possible. Despite my evaluation of the Kanazuchi (Upgrade) with respect to the base model, it should be acknowledged that the newer variant is still Assault Battle Armor, possessing greater combined firepower and protection than lighter designs, and it can be compared with Clan Hell's Horses' Rock Golem, albeit with lower performance due to differences in technology.

     One other canon Kanazuchi variant exists, the Kanazuchi "Cyclops" from Experimental Technical Readout: Gladiators, but there is only a single example that has been built. Serving as the goaltender for the Bull Jaegers Combat Ball team on the planet Noisiel, deep in the Lyran Alliance, the suit has been modified to remove the missiles and Modular Equipment Adaptor, enabling the Medium Laser to be upgraded to a detachable Clan ER Medium Pulse Laser, with both arms tipped with Heavy Battle Claws and the armor replaced with Advanced composites to both save mass and allow it to be strengthened to 16 points. The Detachable Weapon Pack required the movement system to be upgraded, but while the weapon is still attached the suit moves at the same speed as the standard variants. Where the Bull Jaegers managed to get hold of a Kanazuchi is unknown, as is the origin of the rare and experimental Clan laser, but considering that the suit is a unique refit it has little impact on the game universe.

     No further upgrades for the Kanazuchi are currently expected, nor is there any replacement on the horizon, despite the availability of technology that could greatly improve the performance of the theoretical follow-on design over the existing suit. There is perhaps a very slim possibility that the AFFS may one day field a new Assault suit inspired by a captured Kanazuchi, but given that it was believed to have been undergoing study on New Syrtis, it may be that the damage to that planet will have wrecked any such project. Although generally eclipsed by the Clan Assault designs that were spurred into development by the Kanazuchi's example, it's still competitive compared to later Inner Sphere suits of the same weight class, which typically reduce weapon payload to increase armor, or vice versa. The Kanazuchi (Upgrade) might be a workable ride, but I can only hope for the DCMS' sake that they mostly field the initial model of the Kanazuchi in the future, and those units that retain the original can stride confidently into combat, knowing that even after decades of service their suit remains one of the best.

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Welshman

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Kanazuchi
« Reply #1 on: 09 November 2011, 15:30:00 »
The Cyclops was fun to design, but it is certainly a one of a kind unit. We'll see rules for combat ball before we see another one.

The 'Zuch is definately the bench mark of assault suits. I think its a testiment to it that so few other assault suits even tried for energy armament  When designing the Kopis, the goal was to match reputation of the 'Zuch.

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sillybrit

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Kanazuchi
« Reply #2 on: 09 November 2011, 16:38:58 »
We'll see rules for combat ball before we see another one.

I imagine it being a slightly less rough version of Australian rules football. With lasers.

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Kanazuchi
« Reply #3 on: 09 November 2011, 16:40:49 »
To me, the 'Zuchi Upgrade is an antitank unit, what I'm starting to call a valet. BA's lack of attacker movement mods nicely cancels the MRM penalty, letting you use the full range of those missiles. 15 hex range and enough ammo for riskier shots turns your squad into an LB8-X, and creates an enormous area enemy tanks and badly damaged mechs will want to avoid. The PPCs are the same story closer in, but doing enough raw damage to worry even fresh-armored mechs.
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kuttsinister7

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Kanazuchi
« Reply #4 on: 09 November 2011, 17:18:32 »
I love the design enough to have 8 squads of it...Keep the rats at bay while slowing down light mechs. It is a monster in its own right!
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misterpants

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Kanazuchi
« Reply #5 on: 09 November 2011, 17:19:50 »
I imagine it being a slightly less rough version of Australian rules football. With lasers.

With the 'Zuch being the ball and 'mechs being the players?
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sillybrit

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Kanazuchi
« Reply #6 on: 09 November 2011, 17:20:14 »
The use of MRMs vs vehicles is something that I vaguely recall writing at some point. It must have been in an early draft and I somehow ended up leaving it out.

EDIT: I remembered where I wrote that, it was regarding the MRM config for the Raiden.
« Last Edit: 09 November 2011, 17:23:09 by sillybrit »

Nightsong

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Kanazuchi
« Reply #7 on: 09 November 2011, 18:27:53 »
As I mentioned in the Kage review, I love using them as a backstop and distraction for TAG-Kages as well as for general purposes, and setting up the "Bubble of Death" effect you often see in AC/20-packing units. A long while back (And probably lost to one server update or another), I actually had a fun idea for Project BallPeen (Kanazuchi = Hammer in Japanese) where I tried to upgrade the Medium to an ER with various degrees of success, but it's hard to mess with what is already a nigh-perfect attack suit. I also like teaming these up with the Infantry-variant Maxims, in order to get them onto the battlefield in a hurry, packing a couple squads and deploying them wherever a hovercraft can go.

The 'Upgrade' variant is a bit dubious, but as mentioned on other posts, it is somewhat handy for critseeking.

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Kanazuchi
« Reply #8 on: 09 November 2011, 18:56:38 »
I love the Kanazuchi.  I've had tremendous success with them the handful of times that I've used them.
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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Kanazuchi
« Reply #9 on: 09 November 2011, 18:59:38 »
Its doubtful that there were any Gnomes outside of the CHH OZ in 3063. In 3064, thats another story.

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Kanazuchi
« Reply #10 on: 09 November 2011, 23:06:42 »
I've had a lot of luck and fun using the Kanazuchi as an area denial weapon. You drop a squad of them in some useful location with cover (Woods and buildings come to mind) and use them to force enemy movement. Those four lasers become a bubble of death that opponents feel reluctant to probe out of all proportion, especially when you factor in the amount of damage you need to do to bring one suit down, let alone the whole squad.
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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Kanazuchi
« Reply #11 on: 10 November 2011, 02:38:04 »
Similar firepower to Jenner, although much less mobile.
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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Kanazuchi
« Reply #12 on: 10 November 2011, 03:23:55 »
The fact that they don't move much to begin with has left me wondering about the possibilities of outfitting them with Mimetic Armor }:)
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sillybrit

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Kanazuchi
« Reply #13 on: 10 November 2011, 03:59:14 »
Always a favored choice for my own slow designs, although the additional slots required by the armor means that the Kanazuchi would have to make some other changes.

sandstorm

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Kanazuchi
« Reply #14 on: 10 November 2011, 09:58:43 »
Hoo-boy... :D

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Mimetic Kanazuchi company: BOOM! Backshot!

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Kanazuchi
« Reply #15 on: 10 November 2011, 15:02:58 »
While Kanazuchi do well as semi-mobile area denial turrets, I prefer using APCs and VTOLs to employ them offensively to hem in slower heavies and assaults.  They're also fantastic bosses in the RPG. 

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Kanazuchi
« Reply #16 on: 10 November 2011, 15:23:18 »
The fact that they don't move much to begin with has left me wondering about the possibilities of outfitting them with Mimetic Armor }:)

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Kanazuchi
« Reply #17 on: 10 November 2011, 16:29:17 »
It can be done, though you have to lose the modularity of the left hand, and both AP mounts (unless you consolidate the SRMs into a single OS 4 pack, in which case you can keep one AP mount).  Leaves you with enough free weight to use an SRM-5(OS) if you want, actually.
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