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Author Topic: Battle Armor of the Week - Elemental II  (Read 5191 times)

sillybrit

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Battle Armor of the Week - Elemental II
« on: 08 December 2011, 13:30:57 »
Elemental II (X) - Experimental Technical Readout Clans page 14
Elemental II - Technical Readout Prototypes page 19



     The history of the Elemental II is the story of an ugly duckling that turns into a swan; perhaps not the toughest swan in the pond, but at least no longer fit only for ridicule and despair. It's yet another attempt to improve upon the already sublime Elemental, and while it does enhance some areas, it fails in others, leaving the original still sitting on its throne.

     Clan Hell's Horses' Elemental II is another Clan Battle Armor design where we get to see and even use its prototype. Due to the order of publication, we actually saw the final production model of the suit first, but I will start with the experimental version. Published in Experimental Technical Readout: Clans, the Elemental II (X) has a project start date of 3076 and development apparently begun while the Hell's Horses were still migrating to the Inner Sphere, taking place on one of the Clan's mobile facilities. Intended to take advantage of the then still experimental Battle Armor Myomer Booster, the prototype can only politely be called a disaster, and I assume that the engineers responsible for its design were going stir crazy while enduring the confinement of shipboard life. The only other possibility in my opinion is that they were Society agents and deliberately tried to sabotage the Horses' project. The Elemental II (X) is that bad that I'd hate to think it was an honest mistake.

     The first step in the process of designing what was intended to be an improvement on the original Elemental was adding the Myomer Boosters, a system that increases ground speed and strengthens physical attacks at the expense of a heightened heat signature, which prevents the suit from hiding in an attempt to ambush enemy units. Although this restriction wouldn't perhaps be much of a problem in the blunt, forthright Trials that form much of Clan combat, it's a significant loss for a Clan operating in the Inner Sphere, which is mistake number one. Unfortunately, this system is also so heavy that combined with the need to keep the armor at its existing levels, it forced a general reinforcement of the Elemental II (X)'s chassis, which drove the weight class up into to the Heavy category. This meant that the new suit could no longer conduct Anti-'Mech attacks, which is mistake number two, although at least they left it capable of hitching a ride on friendly OmniMechs. Another consequence of the increased size is the reduction of the maximum jump range below the critical distance of 90 meters, which is mistake number three.

     Even with the increased size, the armament payload had to be downgraded due to the mass of all the other systems, so the designers attempted to compensate by using a Detachable Weapon Pack for the main firepower, which is mistake number four. Although allowing the use of a weapon that is a third heavier than could normally be carried and also typically reducing the number of slots required, the mounting system does come at a price, reducing speed and preventing a suit from jumping until the weapon is jettisoned, in which case all mobility is returned to normal levels, although obviously the armament is then lost.

     I'm normally an advocate of Detachable Weapon Packs, because they're a great way of supplying Battle Armor with much more powerful armamment, but the mobility loss they inflict means that they should really only be used on heavier suits that are intended for low speed and typically have the armor or other defensive benefits to compensate. The Weapon Packs should also typically only be used when the saved mass they provide is greater than the mass required to strengthen the motive systems to enable the Battle Armor to carry them in the first place, although exceptions can be made for suits that are low on available equipment slots. Unfortunately, the Elemental II (X) meets none of these criteria. Between the Myomer Boosters and the improvement of the basic ground movement ability, the suit assigns 330kg of mass, but mounting the Micro Pulse Laser with its extended magazine on a Detachable Weapon Pack only saves it 35kg.

     Alongside the Micro Pulse Laser on its Detachable Weapon Pack, the Elemental II (X) is armed with a Light Machine Gun and an Anti-Personnel Weapon Mount, giving it a pitiful token to carry on the fight if it has to drop the laser. While still encumbered, the suit is only capable of moving at the same pace as conventional foot infantry, presenting little difficulty for enemy targeting systems to track. Furthermore, the suit's armor lacks any form of stealth and its weaponry is short-ranged, so the Elemental II (X) is even incapable of holding back the enemy at a distance where the accuracy of their own weapons will be reduced. Altogether, this makes it an easy target for enemy fire that even its 10 points of armor protection will struggle to withstand.

     When the laser is jettisoned, the Elemental II (X)'s mobility improves, but even this is inadequate when compared to the original Elemental. The ground movement increases to 32 kph, or 3 Movement Points, and the suit can once again jump up to 60 meters at a time, but this is not enough to generate more than a +1 Target Movement Modifier, with an additional +1 if for non-infantry attackers. The Elemental II (X) does have a superior capability to maneuver in and around buildings, but this is small comfort considering the otherwise pitiful performance. Astoundingly, the Experimental Technical Readout makes the claim that the Elemental II (X) is still a viable combatant; the Readout even calls them deadly, to which my reply is mostly rude with a combination of disbelief and laughter. However, they say that every cloud has a silver lining - although in the Elemental II (X)'s case I think it's only silver paint - and I feel honor bound to point out that the prototype is quite capable under the marine boarding rules, however I feel that's more indicative of the failings of that system than any inherent talent possessed by the suit.

     During the review of the article, jymset summed up the Elemental II (X) perfectly: it is a tour de force of every single enhancement canceling out whichever other enhancement it possesses - on never-before-seen levels - and without a doubt it is the biggest clunker ever designed.

     Luckily for the Hell's Horses, the Clan's engineers continued work on the design, further refining the concept and addressing its major flaws, resulting in the Elemental II design as published in Technical Readout: Prototypes. That sourcebook also contains updated rules for the reassignment of various technologies published in Tactical Operations, changing them from Experimental or Advanced status to more common usage in scenario terms, with some even becoming Tournament Ready, and in the case of Battle Armor Myomer Boosters they become classified as Advanced technology with effect from 3085. Like the write-up for the Elemental II (X), that of the Elemental II also makes a rather odd claim: at some stage the armament of the prototype supposedly consisted of a Micro Pulse Laser and (bizarrely) a Rocket Launcher. Whether this is a configuration that predated the one seen in the Experimental Technical Readout, or one that was developed during the redesign is unknown.

     Whatever the steps that were taken, the improvement process put the bloated design on a much needed diet, plus greatly improved the armament and even the ground speed, but the cost was the loss of the jump jets. Avoiding the monstrous blunder that was the Detachable Weapon Pack-mounted Micro Pulse Laser, the engineers upgraded the Light Machine Gun to an AP Gauss Rifle, providing a superb blend of damage, anti-infantry capability and range. The production Elemental II retains the experimental model's Anti-Personnel Weapon Mount, but saves some weight by replacing the twin Battle Claws with a pair of Basic Manipulators, providing the same capability without having to allocate mass. With the suit now light enough to perform Swarms and Leg Attacks, the Myomer Boosters could at last be used to their fullest extent, enabling the Elemental II to inflict brutal physical attacks.

     Compensating for the removal of the jump jets, the Elemental II's ground speed was increased by a third to 43 kph, but unfortunately this boost isn't enough to address the problem of the suit's decreased ability to generate Target Movement Modifiers when compared to the Elemental. At best, the Elemental II can only generate the same +1 movement modifier as the prototype, and it will also be stymied by bodies of water and slowed by woods and hills. Like the earlier experimental suit sans Detachable Weapon Pack, the production design does possess a formidable maneuverability when the fight heads downtown. The Elemental II is at its best as a city fighter, able to exploit its high ground speed to run into and through buildings, with the weaponry to engage both infantry and armored targets, backed by a powerful Anti-'Mech attack capable of bringing down the largest of 'Mechs or tanks with some luck. As already noted, the Elemental II is incapable of exploiting the Hidden Unit rules, denying the design the ability to ambush the enemy and instead forcing it to confront them openly, which does remove some options in urban warfare.

     Technical Readout: Prototypes reveals that the Elemental II has already proven successful, with the design having shown its worth in urban combat against both 'Mechs and infantry. Even the increased flexibility of its lighter manipulators proved useful due to their ability to turn doorknobs, where a Battle Claw-equipped suit would only be able to smash through the door, upsetting the innocent owners and potentially alerting enemy troops. Admittedly the suit's battlefield experience has has mostly been against pirates, but despite how they're sometimes depicted, Clan warriors are at least competent in their craft and those anti-piracy operations will provide the Elemental troops with valuable experience to prepare for more worthy foes.

     Given the location of the Hell's Horses' worlds in the Inner Sphere, I question how much combat they will see against other Spheroid forces, except in those cases where they confront Dominion troops without their Ghost Bear overlords. The most common foes will probably be other Clans, whether the Bears, Wolves or Jade Falcon, and I have to ask just how many Trials will take place in urban areas. Of course, Clan vs Clan combat can be fought without all the rituals and limits of Trials, and those Trials will sometimes still be fought in cities and towns, but it appears to me that the Horses have tailored the Elemental II to an environment where it is perhaps more likely to fight marauding raiders out for loot rather than blood, instead of any real opposition. Fortunately, the Elemental II's specialization doesn't cripple it for other battlefields, and even when forced out of its comfort zone, any enemy who encounters it is going to find the suit a potentially dangerous foe.

     Although the Elemental II isn't a bad Battle Armor design, it's not a great one in my opinion, being nowhere near as capable as the original Elemental in many situations. In that respect, the suit failed in its goal of improving on the design of its famous parent, but those added abilities it does possess at least give it a useful battlefield role. Ideally, I'd deploy mixed units of both designs, with the Elemental II being the lead unit for Anti-'Mech assaults and when operating in urban areas. However, despite that ideal, I would still mostly field the Elemental, and if forced to decide between only using one or the other, I will always chose the older suit. Above and beyond the issue of the Elemental II being a brand new product of a single Clan - one that is isolated from many of its surviving peers - I don't see the new design becoming as popular as the original. That said, the Elemental II is a fun unit to play and I would recommend every player should give them a try.

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Moonsword

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Elemental II
« Reply #1 on: 08 December 2011, 14:04:35 »
You hit the nail on the head, echoing something someone (I think it was Weirdo) said a while back - this is an urban fighting specialist with enough general capability to survive outside the concrete jungle.  It may also have some fluff benefits in terrain where you really, really don't want to be jumping.

On the point of whether or not the Horses fully considered the environment they fight in, I'd submit that there may be a little more call for a specialist like this because of whatever the Horses are up to in the Periphery.  The Aithon has been employed hitting enemy strongholds and bunkers, places where Elementals are going to be at a relative mobility disadvantage compared to the Elemental II, and in some of the terrain they might be going into (keep in mind that the Aithon's LTC is an absolutely brutal weapon against buildings), an Elemental II point may have more opportunity to suddenly charge out into a 'Mech's face.

ANS Kamas P81

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Elemental II
« Reply #2 on: 08 December 2011, 17:08:43 »
The CHH version of the Sokar, perhaps?

glitterboy2098

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Elemental II
« Reply #3 on: 08 December 2011, 17:34:28 »
Quote
During the review of the article, jymset summed up the Elemental II (X) perfectly: it is a tour de force of every single enhancement canceling out whichever other enhancement it possesses - on never-before-seen levels - and without a doubt it is the biggest clunker ever designed.
it's a Knights of the Dinner Table special?

Ian Sharpe

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Elemental II
« Reply #4 on: 08 December 2011, 17:37:45 »
Probably destined to be a footnote in the annals of BT history as its not the generalist that the Elemental suit is.  Still, that high ground speed is useful on salt flats, the high strength/damage bonus per trooper makes them really nasty in double-blind play as well.  It also packs the king of BA guns and so the less of the SRMs isn't quite so bad, esp if the APWM is something fun like a Mauser IIC or Avenger CCW.  I could see these being heavily issued to garrison commands, who would probably like them, leaving versatile Toad suits for the front lines.

sillybrit

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Elemental II
« Reply #5 on: 08 December 2011, 18:30:27 »
it's a Knights of the Dinner Table special?

I don't think that even Brian, Dave, Bob and Sara are as disfunctional a unit as the Elemental II (X).

Probably destined to be a footnote in the annals of BT history as its not the generalist that the Elemental suit is.  Still, that high ground speed is useful on salt flats,

While the higher speed will occasionally be useful, the vulnerability due to the sub-par TMM compared to the Elemental would still make that suit my preference in such flat terrain. As noted in the article, the Elemental II is an urban combat suit, where it can frequently outfight the older Battle Armor due to its mobility within and between buildings in heavily built up areas.

glitterboy2098

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Elemental II
« Reply #6 on: 08 December 2011, 19:13:35 »
I don't think that even Brian, Dave, Bob and Sara are as disfunctional a unit as the Elemental II (X).
clearly you've not read the numerous filler strips about bob and Dave's attempts to min-max when building characters.  :D
you get things like a a ranger who takes Longbow Specialty and long range shooting, but frees up the points for them by taking flaws like 'one armed' and 'half blind'. or a gunslinger who manages to get 'agile', 'smooth talker' and 'photographic memory' by taking flaws like 'amputee', 'stutter', and 'alzheimer's'. like the elemental II (X), their efforts seem like viable combinations on paper, but in practice the combination results in either a lackluster result, or outright sucky results.

SCC

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Elemental II
« Reply #7 on: 16 April 2013, 03:11:54 »
How does the II (X) achieve ground speed 3? At the heavy weight class a Myomer Booster only grants a +1 to move.

A. Lurker

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Elemental II
« Reply #8 on: 16 April 2013, 04:29:41 »
How does the II (X) achieve ground speed 3? At the heavy weight class a Myomer Booster only grants a +1 to move.

Per TechManual the standard maximum ground MP for a humanoid heavy battlesuit is 2, achievable by investing 80 kg into getting the additional point. I don't have the actual stats for the II (X) in front of me, but if we assume that's what its designers did and then add the boosters to that...

SCC

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Elemental II
« Reply #9 on: 16 April 2013, 06:36:16 »
Per TechManual the standard maximum ground MP for a humanoid heavy battlesuit is 2, achievable by investing 80 kg into getting the additional point. I don't have the actual stats for the II (X) in front of me, but if we assume that's what its designers did and then add the boosters to that...
Sorry, it just that the article doesn't talk about them boosting ground speed other then the Booster

A. Lurker

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Elemental II
« Reply #10 on: 16 April 2013, 08:01:36 »
Sorry, it just that the article doesn't talk about them boosting ground speed other then the Booster

It actually does (emphasis mine):

Between the Myomer Boosters and the improvement of the basic ground movement ability, the suit assigns 330kg of mass, but mounting the Micro Pulse Laser with its extended magazine on a Detachable Weapon Pack only saves it 35kg.

Don't worry, I didn't spot that before just now either, else I'd have pointed it out in my earlier reply.

Colt Ward

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Elemental II
« Reply #11 on: 17 April 2013, 22:29:27 »
Looking at ER3145 . . . this design will get a lot of the urban work in the new Wolf Empire.  Probably DID when that empire was carved out.
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Orin J.

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Elemental II
« Reply #12 on: 18 April 2013, 17:43:54 »
...it looks like an elemental with more thought given to body lines. this said, if i ever get struck with the need to paint a BA like Samas Aran....
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