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Author Topic: Battle Armor of the Week - Afreet  (Read 4289 times)

sillybrit

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Battle Armor of the Week - Afreet
« on: 05 March 2012, 22:20:37 »
Afreet Battle Armor - Technical Readout 3075 page 119



     The Afreet is a Medium Battle Armor design that's sometimes mistaken for a Light, and that can be viewed in some ways as a Clantech Void. Developed by Clan Ice Hellion, who place a strong emphasis on speed, the suit sacrifices armor and carries only a modest ranged armament to enable it to enhance its mobility. In keeping with that Clan's character, the Afreet is capable of furious close quarters assaults, aiming to overwhelm a foe by the sheer speed of its attacks before its vulnerabilities can be exploited.

     Originally published in Combat Equipment, the Afreet was the first suit to be equipped with Battle Vibro-Claws, both by publication date and within the universe. A hefty investment for a Medium suit, requiring a tenth of the design's total weight, and even more of its actual usable payload, the Afreet also increased its mobility with a Jump Booster, leaving little mass for guns and armor. Like the other designs from that sourcebook, the suit was republished in Technical Readout 3075, where we also got to see two of its three known variants, together with some added detail and background, with the final variant introduced in the Old Is The New New section of Technical Readout 3085.

     The design started as a merger between two different prototypes, one a weaponless but high speed VTOL suit intended purely for reconnaissance duties and the other an anti-infantry specialist. The latter role does seem kind of curious given that the Hellions weren't an Invasion Clan when also considering how few of their fellow Clans field conventional infantry in their frontline forces. The Hellions Khan decided that the two development projects should be combined to develop a single suit, rather than end up fielding two separate designs with their own distinct capabilities and roles. Whether this was from a desire to save resources or was due to the Hellions' traditional disdain of Battle Armor isn't known, but was is certain that the final Afreet owes as much to the skills of the two project's test pilots as it does to efficient design processes.

     Unable at times to decide upon which features from each project should carry over to the new design, Trials were fought between the two teams to decide the outcome, which could have ended in a bizarre monstrosity. Presumably the test pilots of the scout prototype weren't as skilled as the ones assigned to the anti-infantry suit, because the final design is mostly slanted towards the latter role, losing the scout's VTOL capability and higher ground speed, while adding integral weaponry. The end product did at least satisfy Khan Montose by epitomizing the Hellion's belief in fast, overwhelming attacks, but to an outside observer the Afreet may not appear as impressive.

     The Afreet's comparatively low armor for a Clan design is perhaps its most defining feature, and one that certainly is its greatest weakness. A mere five points of armor, half the protection of the standard Elemental, is all that stands between the operator and whatever unpleasantness is being thrown his or her way. Most importantly for Clan vs. Clan combat, it means instant death if struck by either of the ubiquitous ER or Pulse Medium Lasers, while just a pair of shots from an AP Gauss Rifle will also achieve a kill. The latter is very significant for Battle Armor vs. Battle Armor fights, and when attacked by an enemy Point equipped with that weapon, an Afreet Point will quite possibly end up losing a suit in the first salvo, which increases the chance of a similar two-hit kill the next Turn and so on, in a rapidly fatal downward spiral. To be fair, it should be noted that when operating against Inner Sphere foes, the Afreet is less of a liability, primarily due to the weaker Medium Lasers and less efficient Battle Armor weaponry it will encounter.

      The weak protection is a trait shared by the Void mentioned above, but unlike that suit the Afreet lacks the potential life saver that is stealth technology. All that keeps the Afreet from being struck is its maneuverability, and, as will be discussed later, the improvement in this area isn't enough to make the suit any harder to hit than older designs, such as the Elemental. The Jade Falcon's variant does use Fire Resistant armor, so their Afreet Points at least can ignore Infernos and similar heat dealing weapons, but really that armor is at its most effective on heavily protected designs. There's little profit to be gained from destroying an Afreet Point using the potentially few Infernos an attacker might have available, when they can be wiped out with relatively lightweight direct damage weapons, allowing the Infernos to be saved for bricks, such as the Kanazuchi or Warg.

      The Afreet shares another feature with the Void and with the Nova Cat's Clan Medium Battle Armor - another Clantech design that was also introduced in 3067 - namely the use of Jump Boosters to increase mobility. It's quite likely that the Hellions even managed to obtained the Boosters from the Nova Cats, who were the only ones also known to be experimenting with the technology at the time, having recently obtained it themselves from Inner Sphere sources.

     The Boosters allow the Afreet to jump an extra 30 meters, for a total of 120 per leap, which unfortunately falls short of the threshold to obtain the next level of the Target Movement Modifier. When attempting to avoid damage, the only benefit for the increased jump distance is that it could perhaps just move the Afreet out of range, to a more advantageous range, or even out of line of sight, whereas an Elemental in the same situation might be left short of safety. However, those situations aren't always available and the Afreet's greater movement ability is of more use when used to keep pace with heavier, slower-paced Heavy and Assault 'Mechs. Arguably, that's small comfort when the widespread deployment of OmniMechs in Clan forces is considered, but there may be circumstances where the two have to coordinate without the possibility of using Mechanized Battle Armor tactics.

     The mass of the Jump Boosters just happens to match the "missing" five points of armor, so the Afreet's modest ranged armament can be blamed purely on the weaponry and equipment choices that were made to exploit the remaining payload. As noted above, 100 kilos were devoted to installing a pair of Vibro-Claws, which initially made the Afreet one of the most powerful close combat suits when first introduced. As published in Combat Equipment, the Afreet's Vibro-Claws inflicted damage per suit, which meant that a full Point could, for example, deal out up to ten points of Swarming damage just with the claws alone. With the ranged firepower added on top, that could result in a twenty point Swarm, which no Mechwarrior or tanker would want to face. With the coming of Total War, this was nerfed so that the Vibro-Claw bonus was for the entire unit, such that the Afreet's paired claws only added two extra points of damage, ripping the guts out of the design in my opinion, although still allowing a full Point to headcap a 'Mech during a Swarm.

    Although the Afreet can be considered lightly armed by later standards, the designers did add what was an excellent weapon for the time, and one that some players I knew considered to be most un-Clanlike, one fit only for the Inner Sphere. The Light Recoilless Rifle is one of the key Battle Armor weapons for Spheroids, but it's overshadowed nowadays by the AP Gauss Rifle in the Clan environment; added to this, it has an old and primitive feel, harkening back to the days before space flight, and almost an anachronism in the ultratech Clan arsenal, particularly the technology focused Hellions.

     As odd as the Light Recoilless Rifle's installation may seem to some, it should be remembered that this was in the days before the AP Gauss Rifle, when Battle Armor had relatively few non-missile weapons that had a longer range than the original trio introduced with the Elemental. With this in mind, the rifle was something of an inspired choice in its time, giving the Afreet a weapon that could be used to snipe some opponents while safely out of range, without costing the mass of similar improved weapons such as the PPC or Medium Recoilless. Sadly, this window of opportunity didn't last long, and just two in-universe years later the AP Gauss Rifle burst onto the scene.

    Notably, the Afreet is again very similar to the Void when it comes to ranged armament, with both inflicting the same damage, and although the Kuritan design enjoys a slight range advantage of one hex, this is at least partially offset by the Afreet mounting its weapon on its arm, and thus allowing its use in Swarming, plus the Light Recoilless Rifle having greater performance against infantry. It was the latter feature that is the in-game reason for the Hellions to have mounted the rifle, intending the suit for operations against unarmored troops, a holdover from one of the two competing prototype designs that were merged to form the Afreet. The Vibro-Claws are also effective against infantry, both conventional and Battle Armor, and in this case they still do inflict damage per suit, potentially allowing a Point of Afreets to wipe out an entire platoon in a single Turn, even one in cover.

     Rounding out the payload is perhaps the only remaining element that was inherited from the VTOL-based reconnaissance design, an Improved Sensor system. Together with the Cloud Cobra's Resgate PA(L) and the Elemental Headhunter that had been developed by Clan Wolf during the Clan Invasion, the Afreet was thus one of the few canon Clan suits with some form of advanced sensors to improve scouting abilities. In the case of the Afreet, for many years only the Ice Hellions could enjoy its use, while only the Ghost Bears appear to have eventually obtained the Headhunter, resigning most of the other Clans to using the flimsy Resgate, assuming they even had that. Luckily for Clan players who want to use scout Battle Armor during those years, under the current rules Improved Sensors and similar non-weapon equipment can be mounted on Modular Weapon Mounts, allowing suits like the standard Elemental to be used for scouting roles, albeit only if using non-canon configurations.

     Despite many attempts by other Clans to obtain the Afreet design, the Hellions managed to fight off all challenges for their new Battle Armor until finally the Jade Falcons succeeded in winning the suit for themselves. Not content with merely accepting the Hellion's design choices, in 3072 the Falcons developed their own variant using two of their signature technologies: Fire Resistant armor and the incomparable AP Gauss Rifle. The change in armament and protection cost the Jade Falcon variant the added sensors of the Standard model, but this is a small price for those more interested in using the suit in a more combative role, given the greater damage and range when compared to the Light Recoilless Rifle. While obviously an improvement in terms of ranged combat, the Falcon's new variant still can't really withstand incoming fire any better, and arguably a better modification would have been better protection, but many Clan designs are more offensive minded, so within that theme the Falcon's decision can be understood.

     jymset: In light of the statement that the Afreet’s armament was quickly made obsolete by the in-universe introduction of the AP Gauss, it is doubly interesting to note the significance of the Jade Falcon variant. Though post-dating the AP Gauss Elemental configuration in-universe, in reality the JF Afreet was one of the most desirable suits for a year or two. TRO 3075 predated RS 3058Uu-C by quite some time in which the JF Afreet was the only canon design to mount the AP Gauss. It is a testament to this weapon that the rest of the suit was only by-product, with only the weapon’s deployment being of interest, nothing else.

     In-universe, this was not the case, but by the same token, the design still makes sense, carrying the signature JF technologies. While again post-dating some designs that came out later in RL, it was the first published suit that signaled the path that JF Battle Armor would take; a path that has by now turned out some of the strongest suits in the game’s existence.


     Having borne the brunt of the fighting against the Hellions, alongside the Falcons, the Hell's Horses have also come into possession of the Afreet, and again they've produced their own variant, that was also first introduced in 3072. Unfortunately, and without a doubt, the Horses' interpretation is the worst of the three versions published in Technical Readout 3075. Like the Falcon's version, the Horses' variant swaps out the Light Recoilless Rifle and Improved Sensors, instead opting for a Bearhunter and a one-shot SRM launcher with a trio of tubes, although it retains the original's Standard armor. The SRMs are a reasonable weapon upgrade, with the single salvo well suited to such a lightly armored design, but the Bearhunter is a disastrous choice for the BattleTech tactical game. Inaccurate and short ranged, the Bearhunter is a strong contender for the worst Battle Armor weapon currently available, even in comparison to the lower tech Inner Sphere weaponry.

     jymset: Thankfully, I came to the same conclusion in the Bearhunter article.

     Sharp-eyed players may have noticed something rather unusual about the stats for all three Afreet models presented in Technical Readout 3075. They all possess extended magazines for their main gun armament, which unfortunately is just a cosmetic feature in the BattleTech game, although the extra shots do come in handy in RPG play. Although not possible in BattleTech play, the Afreet's write-up notes that some Warriors exploit the large magazine capacity of the standard model to carry a wide variety of Light Recoilless Rifle rounds, allowing some of the more imaginative Warriors to be far more effective in combat as they use specialist ammunition to distract and confuse their foes.

     With Technical Readout 3085, we got the last of the four canon versions on the Afreet, in the form of the Interdictor variant, which entered production in 3076, during the Jihad. Like other suits of that name, the Interdictor installs an ECM Suite, better suiting it to engage Blakist forces relying upon C3I networks to coordinate their forces. Apparently a Jade Falcon design, judging by the Master Unit List and its use of Fire Resistant armor, the Interdictor swaps the Falcon variant's AP Gauss Rifle with its extended clip for a Heavy Machine Gun and ECM system. Obviously less capable of ranged combat, this is still a fearsome close quarters fighter while its armor holds out, with the added benefit of its electronic warfare capabilities.

     jymset: Mea maxima culpa, I inflicted this one. The job I was given was to create a Clan Interdictor and though we were told to stick mainly to 3058U for ONN, I made the case for the Afreet based on mission envelope and deployment. Really, the only other contender may have been the Sylph and… besides not being a fan, I submitted a Stealth Sylph for ONN which was rejected.

     As for its design, what I really wanted to do here is to cement the JF design philosophy in terms of them continuing a strong use of Fire Resistant armor. This was picked up in several designs/variants in 3085, but the Afreet was the only one that was questioned. It was only by reasserting I intended it to be a variant of the JF Afreet that it was accepted in the current form. The HMG seemed more Falcon-y than a Flamer (or a heinous ERµL) in view of the Falcons’ Anti-Infantry Salamander variant.


     The Afreet is a favorite of some players who like the combination of speed and the ability to inflict savage attacks, getting up right in the enemy's face and ripping it off. For those who like their Battle Armor to be able to fight at a slightly less frenzied pace while having a more reasonable chance of surviving a battle, then the design is not really suited to that style of combat, and those players are best advised to look elsewhere.

     Although their armaments vary, all four variants have to be operated in essentially the same way due to the shared traits of high mobility and, most importantly, low protection. The Afreet works best in ambush situations where it can get in close enough to use its claws with little or no delay, aiming to at least cripple the opponent before suffering heavy casualties in return. If provided with adequate support to hold the enemy's attention, hit and run tactics are generally the best bet, preferably attacking distracted foes from behind to minimize return fire. Without that support, in most cases you can expect to lose a lot of suits against all but the lightest of opponents.

     The standard Afreet is flagged as an anti-infantry suit, and all three later variants still possess a main gun that's a good infantry killer, but even then they're still risking significant losses against the more powerful infantry types, such as we saw in Technical Readout 3085. It does take a trio of 2-point clusters from conventional infantry damage to bring down an Afreet, so unless tangling with some of the real monster platoon setups, it's possible to soak a Turn of damage, perhaps even two, before Battle Armor suits start going down. Except in cases where the Afreet's weaponry completely outranges the PBI's attacks, it's typically best to just accept the short term losses and get in close, also bringing the Vibro-Claws into play to slice and dice the infantry, and hopefully killing the entire platoon in just a single Turn.

     Thanks to its Improved Sensors, the original Afreet model is a usable scout in the urban environment or other confined areas where hidden units commonly lay in ambush. High losses are possible, but at least Afreet Points have a chance of inflicting heavy losses before they are destroyed, or perhaps exploiting their high jump capability to get behind cover. Personally, I'd rather use the Headhunter, assuming I had access to it, despite the latter's weaker armament. When used for scouting, direct combat should only be a last resort, and the Headhunter's heavier armor makes it more likely that the unit would have a chance to flee if it finds itself too close to the enemy.

     Often overlooked for the role, the Afreet is actually a superb marine combat suit, where its lack of armor is of little consequence when using the boarding rules. Worth no less than six Marine Boarding Points thanks to the twin Vibro-Claws and burst-fire capable weapons fitted to all four variants, the Afreet is only just short of the value of the Elemental (Space) specialist, which is impressive for a non-specialist design.

     Thanks to the Jade Falcons, and perhaps the Horses, the Afreet will at least be a continued battlefield sight in the Inner Sphere, although the Wars of Reaving may not have been so kind back in the Homeworlds. Now that the Hellions are gone, I wonder whether any of the Homeworld Clans will be inclined to pick up production, assuming the factory on Hector even survived first passing into Goliath Scorpion hands and then the Cloud Cobras' after they subsequently took control of the planet.

     Personally, I find the Afreet to be just too fragile for my tastes, although I have had some fun and success with the design, particularly in the past before the Vibro-Claws were nerfed. My advice is to use them in moderation, just a sprinkling here and there among your Battle Armor forces, using them to exploit or stem a breakthrough or as a sneaky surprise for an unwary opponent. Going all or nothing may allow you to achieve some impressive victories, but be aware that the risk is high you'll instead suffer ignominious defeat. So if you like to gamble, I tell you the Afreet is your suit, you'll win some, lose some, and have fun all the same.

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LastChanceCav

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Afreet
« Reply #1 on: 05 March 2012, 23:33:55 »
Yeah! Welcome back BA of the week! I've been looking forward to these for a while.

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blitzy

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Afreet
« Reply #2 on: 06 March 2012, 00:11:56 »
I always loved this suit.   :))
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MadVoorpak

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Afreet
« Reply #3 on: 06 March 2012, 03:28:43 »
Looks like something from neon genesis.

That being said, fun suit to play with.

Pa Weasley

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Afreet
« Reply #4 on: 06 March 2012, 10:08:17 »
Huzzah for the return of "Battle Armor of the Week"!

Quote
The Afreet shares another feature with the Void and with the Nova Cat's Clan Medium Battle Armor - another Clantech design that was also introduced in 3067 - namely the use of Jump Boosters to increase mobility. It's quite likely that the Hellions even managed to obtained the Boosters from the Nova Cats, who were the only ones also known to be experimenting with the technology at the time, having recently obtained it themselves from Inner Sphere sources.
Well that idea opens up a lot of questions ...

Ian Sharpe

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Afreet
« Reply #5 on: 06 March 2012, 15:48:52 »
Another BA I really want to like, and I do use/field them on occasion, but they die so easily(even in the IS, with MPLs) that I'm usually better off with other infantry terrors, like the Salamander.  I get why it has the sensors and extra ammo, but 7 points really is the minimum threshold for acceptable Clan BA armour levels.  Maybe subbing in a heat sensor(I doubt sneak suits are in heavy use for Clan infantry) and dropping the extra ammo would let it get another point or two of armour and still remain in the same spirit of the original design. 

The JF one is OK, not great.  Its TMMs are no higher than a 3J suit, so the combo of jump and range isn't as great as say, the Puma.  Agree about fire resistant armour not being as worthwhile on lighter suits, but figure its less for inferno and plasma weapons than to get around woods on fire from Firedrakes.  The Horse one is sucky with the Bearhunter, but OTOH, its a great ambush suit.  That extra hex of jump of is useful when springing an ambush or in double-blind, and can get the autocannon into play a little quicker.  Still, without improvement or house rules to the Bearhunter, not really a suit worth using except to kick around uprising civvies or for second line formations.

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Afreet
« Reply #6 on: 07 March 2012, 16:34:22 »
Huzzah for the return of "Battle Armor of the Week"!
Well that idea opens up a lot of questions ...
Eh, I dont see it myself. It's not like the two clans ever got along to well, and the only time they met after the Abjuration was when the Cats were fleeing the homeworlds.

I suspect its more likely that they bought some suits from the Sharks and reverse engineered it.

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Afreet
« Reply #7 on: 07 March 2012, 17:20:46 »
Sad to hear that about the vibro-claws  :-\

Starting to wonder if this would be a good candidate for a BA-myomer system prototype... dropping all jump for faster foot MPs and the sensors or a full BAP
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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Afreet
« Reply #8 on: 07 March 2012, 18:14:58 »
Eh, I dont see it myself. It's not like the two clans ever got along to well, and the only time they met after the Abjuration was when the Cats were fleeing the homeworlds.

I suspect its more likely that they bought some suits from the Sharks and reverse engineered it.

Or parallel development. I seem to recall FM Crusader clans mentioning the Ice Hellions trying to squeeze more mobility out of their battlesuits. The may have come up with their very own jump booster.
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sillybrit

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Afreet
« Reply #9 on: 07 March 2012, 19:02:26 »
The Clan version of the jump boosters are indeed an Ice Hellion development, at least according to TM p297, despite the wording in the Afreet article in TRO3075 which refers to them as "a relatively recent acquisition", with "acquisition" being an unusual choice of word to describe successful research. I forgot to check the introduction/extinction table when writing the article and so missed that the Hellions are officially attributed with developing jump boosters among the Clans.

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Afreet
« Reply #10 on: 11 May 2012, 00:12:51 »
Well, with the newly added TacOps rule about Bearhunters doing 3D6 damage to other Battle Armor, I would have to revise my opinion of the Hells Horses Afreet notably upward.  The Bearhunter is still short-ranged and inaccurate, but if it hits it can now potentially gun down an Elemental with one burst!  Given the Afreet's greater jump capacity compared to most battle armor, and what you've got is a close-range killer that can outrun you.  The armor is still light, but that never seems to bother Clanners too much.
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sillybrit

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Afreet
« Reply #11 on: 11 May 2012, 00:43:23 »
My money is still on the Elemental overall, assuming it's configured with the AP Gauss Rifle, which it should be if the Warrior inside has any common sense. With only a single hex of overtake per Turn when both suits are free to maneuver, the Elemental has seven Turns to land the two shots needed to kill the Afreet before the latter can fire a Bearhunter shot in return. Given the inaccuracy of the Bearhunter, there's a good case to discount the eighth Turn too, and we've not even considered the Elemental's SRMs or whatever it's loaded on its APWM.

Of course, if the Afreet encounters the Elemental at close quarters and/or where there's little or no possibility for maneuver then it can be a very different story.

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Afreet
« Reply #12 on: 11 May 2012, 01:56:26 »
And from a gaming perspective: a point of Afreet (HH) costs only half von BV than one point of elementals (or less, if the toads are equipped with APGR).
So, yes, an Afreet (HH) could be also especially devastating vs. IS conventional forces, using the SRM3 (OS) for the approach and the bearhunter in the close-quarters.
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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Afreet
« Reply #13 on: 11 May 2012, 03:40:22 »
Of course, if the Afreet encounters the Elemental at close quarters and/or where there's little or no possibility for maneuver then it can be a very different story.

I must admit that is my thought on use there.  Use the HH variant as a sort of anti-BA landmine on the assumption that whatever you jump will be more valuable than the Afreet and will almost certainly wind up dead between the Bearhunter, Vibro-Claws, and SRMs so you do not really care if the suits get shredded in the process.


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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Afreet
« Reply #14 on: 11 May 2012, 11:25:27 »
After some consideration, I've decided on my evaluation of the Afreet: "The BA equivalent of the Hunchback IIC."

You might be able to do some real damage, but the likelihood of the unit surviving after it does that damage is... pretty minimal.

So already in my mind I'm giving them to older warriors on the downslope; no Blood name, looking to go out in a blaze of glory... or take out their impotent rage at the system on hapless infantry in close combat.


For some reason, I like the look of them, too. If only they had just two more points of armor...

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Afreet
« Reply #15 on: 11 May 2012, 12:17:12 »
I must admit that is my thought on use there.  Use the HH variant as a sort of anti-BA landmine on the assumption that whatever you jump will be more valuable than the Afreet and will almost certainly wind up dead between the Bearhunter, Vibro-Claws, and SRMs so you do not really care if the suits get shredded in the process.

Honestly, between the Bearhunter and the claws, Afreets now are an unholy terror to infantry AND most BA- and the SRM's are generally enough to shred what they can't catch up to with the exceptional jump capacity. Definitely a wade-in BA design, despite the light armor.

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Afreet
« Reply #16 on: 11 May 2012, 12:30:02 »
Combining an 'old' (and possibly rather survival-experienced) Solahma Clan Elemental and the Afreet is like giving MASC and Supercharger to a Charger... After they are done, someone WILL be hurting.
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