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Author Topic: Battle Armor of the Week - Phalanx Battle Armor  (Read 13015 times)

sillybrit

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Battle Armor of the Week - Phalanx Battle Armor
« on: 04 May 2012, 14:05:50 »
Phalanx Battle Armor - Technical Readout 3075 page 31



     The Phalanx is that rare beast, an Inner Sphere Heavy Battle Armor design, that squats almost uncomfortably between the far more common Medium and Assault classes that populate the armed forces of the Successor States. Until the recent Tactical Operations 2nd Ed, the Phalanx was also plagued by somewhat sub-standard performance thanks to its choice of main weapon, but now it truly deserves to stand alongside its impressive stablemates, the Achileus, Longinus and the even newer Kopis.

     First seen in Combat Equipment, my initially reaction was happiness that the Inner Sphere now had what I presumed was to be the first example of many more heavy trooper designs to come, copying the abilities of the Clans' impressive Gnome. Capable of mounting more armor and weaponry than Medium suits, Heavy Battle Armor has the advantage over their larger Assault brethren in the ability to still hitch a ride on friendly Omni units. This combination allows Heavy designs to more easily keep pace with 'Mech units while providing greater impact than Mediums and Lights once they get to the battlefield. The weakness is that they do rely on plentiful Omnis for this to work, otherwise you might as well just field a more capable Assault suit if you're going to have to assign an APC as transport.

     The Clans obviously have large numbers of Omnis, which is why they've traditionally favored the development of Heavy Battle Armor over Assaults, but for most of the Inner Sphere it's a different story. Although the stats in Field Manual Update are often questioned, the FWLM didn't field a noticeably large number of OmniMechs compared to other states, while Field Manual Free Worlds notes that the FWLM assign its Battle Armor dedicated APCs, such as the Maxim and Maultier. In my view the explanation for the FWLM's choice of a Heavy is their emphasis on flexbilility, prefering the possibility of Mechanized Battle Armor tactics as an option, however uncommon that possibility might be, over having greater raw combat capability. I can't say I completely agree with that approach and would have been more comfortable if they'd quickly followed up with an Assault, but it was many years before we were to see the Kopis.

     Beginning in 3059, the development of the Phalanx was not without its pitfalls, and even though it's not stated I have to wonder whether the Word of Blake were secretly the cause of the project's early problems. The Blakists are not averse to using deep cover agents to further their goals, and after the FWLM decided that they wanted to go it alone with the development of the Phalanx, I could easily see ROM running spoiler operations to force the League to come begging for help, which would naturally come with a price. Whatever the cause of the early technological issues, the FWLM did indeed ask for Blakist assistance after about three years of struggling on their own, with the first working prototypes stepping out onto the Irian test grounds a year later, followed by the first production suits in 3065.

     When initially seen in Combat Equipment and Technical Readout 3075, the Phalanx didn't really live up to the potential of its chassis, primarily due to being hamstrung by its King David Light Gauss Rifle, although the unused 80kg doesn't help. The Phalanx lacked jump jets, which both restricts mobility and removes the ability to generate a Target Movement Modifier, and it only possessed seven points of armor, meaning it was vulnerable to Inner Sphere Large Lasers, but overstrength for any form of Inner Sphere Medium Laser. At least the secondary armament was good, with a missile pack capable of throwing twice the number of SRMs as the benchmark Elemental, while retaining the same number of salvos.

     Alongside the respectable missile battery, the Phalanx did have some other plus points going for it: its otherwise anemic King David was capable of reaching out nine hexes; and the Improved Stealth Armor could make up for the inability to generate a Target Movement Modifier, plus originally allowed the suit to hide from Probes until this was nerfed by Total War. The doubled ground speed also made the Phalanx a decent urban fighter, better capable of moving around buildings than suits like the IS Standard, that rely more upon their jump jets.

     One unique feature for the Phalanx is that alongside its defacto standard Battle Claw, which provides its ability to ride on Omnis, it also possesses an Armored Glove. Normally only seen in pairs on much lighter suits, such as the Gray Death Scout and Tornado PA(L), the use of an Armored Glove enables the Phalanx to be used in some non-traditional roles for Heavy Battle Armor, and I've even known one player who liked to use one for RPG scenarios. Able to access or wield anything that can be handled or manipulated by the human hand, Phalanx troopers commonly use the Armored Glove to wield an infantry weapon, giving the suit an Anti-Personnel capability even without an AP Weapon Mount. If not using the default Total War rules that treat all AP weapons as Auto Rifles, the ideal choice would be the Man-Portable Plasma Rifle, although others like the Portable Machine Gun are also good.

     Originally, these features best suited the Phalanx to an anti-vehicle role in city combat, with a secondary role against 'Mechs when acting in concert with heavier units, allowing the Phalanx to provide crit seeking firepower that could cripple a tank or finish off a damaged foe. Outside of the city, the Phalanx worked well in a supporting role with OmniMechs, providing infantry backup in situations where vehicular APCs were unavailble. This changed with Tactical Operations 2nd Ed, which introduced certain Battle Armor weapons inflicting extra damage against other Battle Armor, with the King David being one of those weapons. Now inflicting 1D6 damage instead of a single point when used against Battle Armor, this makes the King David better suited to the name King Cobra, such is its potential lethality. When combined with Infernos in the SRM tubes, a Phalanx squad can now even kill a squad of Ravagers in a single Turn, although Medium suits would typically be a more comfortable prey.

     Altogether this makes the Phalanx an almost ideal support unit for 'Mechs. The Battle Armor can enter buildings to dig out infantry and other opponents the 'Mechs cannot reach; they can help degrade enemy 'Mech and armor forces; and they can protect their own 'Mechs from enemy Battle Armor. About the only issue I have with the design is that I'd prefer at least a token jump capability, although this would require a downgrade of the missile pack without other changes. The choice of armor type perhaps isn't the best for such a slow suit, with Mimetic being much better, but this was originally only available to the Word of Blake, so the FWL's choice of Improved Stealth is forgivable.

     The Word of Blake were also a user of the Phalanx, taking the design as payment for their assistance in its development and initially fielding the -A model according to Combat Equipment, before introducing their own variant, although the Technical Readout just has them starting with their own version. Also introduced in Combat Equipment, the Phalanx-B simply swaps the King David for a 'Mech Taser, and personally I believe that the Word should be congratulated on switching to just about the only weapon worse than the original King David. Barring the occasional lucky dice roll that resulted in a shutdown, which may only be temporary for non-Battle Armor targets, the prospect of a one-shot (assuming a hit), range three, one point damage weapon that has a targeting penalty and masses 300kg is simply unappealing. Oh, and let's not forget that the feedback could disable the firing suit.

     Presumably intended for use in capture teams, akin to the Manei Domini units equiped with the Se'irim (Capture Team), the Phalanx-B is of dubious combat value in my experience. Apart from the SRMs, which remained unchanged from the -A, or acting as a simple spotter or initiative sink, I'm struggling to recall more than a few token instances of a Phalanx-B unit actually having any significant effect during a scenario. The times where I've seen the Taser cause a shutdown are few and far between, so at best either I or my opponent had to be satisfied with a mere +1 penalty inflicted on the target's dice rolls for a few Turns. Of course, that was assuming that we even managed to get the Taser into range, and that makes such a questionable weapon even chancier.

     jymset: Tasers (of any grade) are heavily penalised in terms of drawbacks and BV simply because of their theoretical potential, never mind the actual odds of, you know, being useful. I think I'm not the only one who has a distaste of a weapon that could mess up the enemy completely... but usually doesn't... and even when it doesn't, it still sometimes messes up the party that fields it. It's do or die and usually the latter and who wants to play like that? So yeah, the Taser sucks, and with it the Phalanx-B, but at least the Phalanx was the unit to inflict the weapon on the universe, so the Phalanx-B has a point, as stupid as it is. And at least it's not the Aquagladius, the first 'Mech to mount a Taser and a far bigger dud than the Phalanx-B.

     In 3071, the Word of Blake introduced their own pure combat variant in the form of the Phalanx-C, a variant that has also benefited from Tactical Operations 2nd Ed, although in this case in the form of the new Battle Armor Mortar rules. Now capable of firing Flare and Smoke rounds in addition to their standard ammunition, more importantly they can now perform indirect fire just like 'Mech Mortars. That's perhaps not quite so useful with the  Light Mortar, which can only shoot three hexes, but thankfully the Phalanx-C has the Heavy Mortar that can reach out six hexes. While still short ranged, this can be especially powerful in urban combat or other situations where direct line of sight is blocked by terrain even though the opponents are relatively close together.

     The Phalanx-C swaps the -A model's SRM launcher for the Heavy Mortar, but then goes further and exchanges the King David for a Magshot Gauss Rifle, thus freeing up enough mass to add an extra magazine and allow the use of multiple ammunition types. Alongside the Nephilim, another Word of Blake design, this was the first instance of the Magshot appearing on a non-Suns design and was a definite upgrade at the time Technical Readout 3075 was published, but that opinion  is now open to question with King David's new capabilities. Prior to the upgrade of the King David in Battle Armor vs Battle Armor combat, the Phalanx-C did provide superior sustained firepower, but at the cost of much lower short-term firepower. That tradeoff was acceptable in some scenarios or for some players, but overall I prefered the punch of the Phalanx-A even if it could only hit hard twice before become just a mere nuisance. The Phalanx's armor is low enough that sustained firepower is often of little benefit in my experience, but other players did prefer the -C if they could justify fielding the design.

     Sadly, the Word's second variant is the end of the Phalanx's story and it's almost the end of the Inner Sphere's dabbling with Heavy Battle Armor. Only the Gray Death Heavy currently follows in its footsteps, leaving a distinct hole in the Battle Armor arsenal outside of the more numerous Clan designs. Given that the Sloth is a quad, it can be viewed more as a pocket-Assault than a Heavy, since it gains no real benefit over the larger class. Furthermore, it could be argued that neither of two bipedal Heavies are particularly powerful, despite their extra mass over the many fine Inner Sphere Mediums, although the King David's recent boost will no doubt alter that viewpoint with respect to the Phalanx.

     The Jihad was nearly the end of the Phalanx, but luckily the Word of Blake's own production lines survived, allowing the Republic of the Sphere to inherit the design. The remnants of the Free Worlds League have lost their ability to manufacture the Phalanx, leaving them reliant upon the Republic for supplies of the suit, with the Grand Duchy of Oriente exchanging them for Kopis Assault Battle Armor, which some would argue means that the Republic are getting the better half of the deal. Interestingly, the Capellan Confederation has also managed to get hold of significant numbers of the Phalanx-A judging by the RATs in Field Manual 3085. Presumably some of these represent captured suits, while others may be a result of the growing links between the Confederation and the Duchy of Andurien.

     Given a new breath of life thanks to Tactical Operations 2nd Ed, the Phalanx-A is definitely a suit that other Battle Armor need to step lightly around, while the Phalanx-C will undoubtably prove to be a major annoyance for foes who encounter it in cities. Once a mere also ran, the Phalanx now truly deserves being called a first-rate design.

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Weirdo

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Phalanx Battle Armor
« Reply #1 on: 04 May 2012, 14:19:45 »
I'm planning to experiment with using the Phalanx-A in the role the FWLM intended for it, that of bodyguard for conventional infantry units. The SRMs and LGR have always been threats to IFVs and the light 'mechs often tasked with quickly eliminating light troops(often outside the range of their own antipersonnel weapons), and between the recently-boosted King Davids, SRMs, and the infantry's own firepower, enemy battlesuits will find a Phalanx/infantry concentration a very dangerous area to approach.

Hmm...using Phalanx to guard field artillery pieces... ^-^
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ANS Kamas P81

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Phalanx Battle Armor
« Reply #2 on: 04 May 2012, 14:49:15 »
I'd love to see Kopis/Kopis (Antiinfantry)-Phalanx A teams, personally.  An entire company of those nightmares working together, Kopis for holepunchers and Phalanx to pick away at the tasty innards...that could be a nasty thing indeed.  Yeah, it'd tie up some transport assets something fierce, but there's always Maxim.

sandstorm

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Phalanx Battle Armor
« Reply #3 on: 04 May 2012, 14:59:58 »
You know, ANS? I wouldn't want to be the one to dig out a FWLM command bunker with Kopis and Phalanxes in the protective garrison. And the damn things wouldn't even nbeed transportatiom that much....
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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Phalanx Battle Armor
« Reply #4 on: 04 May 2012, 15:01:19 »
A FWL company of heavy and assault suits? That's just terrifying... #P
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daeceg

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Phalanx Battle Armor
« Reply #5 on: 05 May 2012, 00:37:31 »
I do admit that the BA Taser seems...hopelessly optimistic?  The standard does a great job of area-denial, though.  Especially in a WoBblie-supersize BA squad.

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Phalanx Battle Armor
« Reply #6 on: 05 May 2012, 00:41:56 »
Agreed. With the TacOps errata, the base Phalanx demands respect
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ANS Kamas P81

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Phalanx Battle Armor
« Reply #7 on: 05 May 2012, 01:38:08 »
A FWL company of heavy and assault suits? That's just terrifying... #P
Make it one platoon of Kopis, one of Kopis AI, and two Phalanx A platoons.

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Phalanx Battle Armor
« Reply #8 on: 05 May 2012, 02:34:06 »
Does the FWLM still use 5-squad platoons like in FM: FWL, or has that been retconned at some point along the way?
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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Phalanx Battle Armor
« Reply #9 on: 05 May 2012, 07:58:29 »
I've had good luck with the Phalanx-A. I'm not sure why they survive as long as they do, perhaps it has something to do with the Stealth armor and my opponents deciding to target something they're more likely to hit..still, I'm often surprised when they're still around. IIRC they're also sitting on enough empty weight to add atleast one to the magazine count for their SRM, if not 2.

The Phalanx-B...well. I'm not a fan of the Taser. I think the numbers are something like "If you have 36 suits, and hit with all 36, you'll have shut down 1 `Mech, and killed 22 of your suits."

With the new rules I'm going to have to take a look at the Phalanx-C again.

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Phalanx Battle Armor
« Reply #10 on: 05 May 2012, 08:05:46 »
I'm kind of fond of these guys.  I'd tweak the baseline design a little left to my own devices, maybe even trade the King David for an LRR and another round of SRMs, bump the armor, etc., but I like the looks and the ability to mechanize them.  Keep in mind that as much as I and others have panned the Owens' lack of podspace and use of SHS, it's a good BA transport, and the FWLM has a surprising amount of them.

I've had good luck with the Phalanx-A. I'm not sure why they survive as long as they do, perhaps it has something to do with the Stealth armor and my opponents deciding to target something they're more likely to hit..still, I'm often surprised when they're still around. IIRC they're also sitting on enough empty weight to add atleast one to the magazine count for their SRM, if not 2.

They are.

The Phalanx-B...well. I'm not a fan of the Taser. I think the numbers are something like "If you have 36 suits, and hit with all 36, you'll have shut down 1 `Mech, and killed 22 of your suits."

The 'Mech scale ones can be pretty annoying to get pinged by although they're still not that likely to disable anything.  The BA ones, with the lower return and far greater risks to the suit itself, I can do without.

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Phalanx Battle Armor
« Reply #11 on: 05 May 2012, 08:43:02 »
Keep in mind that as much as I and others have panned the Owens' lack of podspace and use of SHS, it's a good BA transport, and the FWLM has a surprising amount of them.
Indeed. I'm slowly working my way up to an all-Omni FWL company(to form a bastardized IS-style Supernova), and the Owens was my first go-to for the light lance.
Quote
The 'Mech scale ones can be pretty annoying to get pinged by although they're still not that likely to disable anything.  The BA ones, with the lower return and far greater risks to the suit itself, I can do without.

Agreed. I take pride in findign a use for just about anything, but I won't tough BA Tasers outside of some very specific scenarios, most of which would require me to capture an individual alive at any costs, regardless of my own casualties. If my group ever goes for a Jihad campaign though, they might be fun to throw into the OPFOR every once in a while, just to mess with people.
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LastChanceCav

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Phalanx Battle Armor
« Reply #12 on: 05 May 2012, 10:38:41 »
I've always liked the Phalanx, mainly for its ability to provide mechanized support to the FWL's other fine BA.

Weirdo, I've played around quite a bit with IS novas, using Unions to move around 8 omnis and 8 squads of BA. I wind up gravitating to the FWL just because their BA forces are so well balanced. They do have plenty of Perseus and Blackjacks to go with the Owens too. How much access does the FWL have to the Firestarter-O and BHKU?

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Phalanx Battle Armor
« Reply #13 on: 05 May 2012, 11:35:47 »
Enough Firestarters to have their own variant, so...a decent number, I'd think. As for the -KU, I have no idea. Having one in a given unit probably isn't too bad, though more might be odd.
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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Phalanx Battle Armor
« Reply #14 on: 05 May 2012, 14:38:38 »
Just Checked the MUL, and the FWL has access to the Owens, Strider, Firestarter, Blackjack, Perseus. Too bad StarCorps doesn't build the Sunder on Emris IV, it would give them the assault omni that can carry the bulkier heavy weapons that the Perseus can't while keeping up with standard FWL mech formations.

Still I think a company with 4 Perseus, 4 Firestarters, pals a pair of Blackjacks for fire support and a pair of Owens for scouting/screening wouldn't be too bad. Maybe match them up with 2 squads each of Achileus and Phalanx, and another 4 squads of Longinus or IS Standard. It's too bad the Phalanx and Longinus didn't pick up LRR variants.

It makes me wonder what the FWL seems to have against the RRs?

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Phalanx Battle Armor
« Reply #15 on: 05 May 2012, 14:56:08 »
It's too bad the Phalanx and Longinus didn't pick up LRR variants.

It makes me wonder what the FWL seems to have against the RRs?

As far as the Longinus is concerned, the answer is "lack of space" - its MWM only has one slot to spare.

I've always liked the Phalanx, mainly for its ability to provide mechanized support to the FWL's other fine BA.

That makes two of us. sillybrit picks and chooses some of the stream-of-consciousness (aka "mess") I send him as feedback to include in his articles. One aspect that didn't make the cut is that I often wax poetic about the days between CE's and 3075's release.

How the times have changed: back in those days the Void was one of the MVPs of CE (can anyone remember that?) and the Phalanx was one of the most reviled. I wouldn't have that - as far as I could tell, the only real difference between it and the Grenadier was its lack of missile endurance. The 2 pts of armour it had less were more than compensated for by its Improved Stealth and the ability to hitch rides on Omnis. All up, I quite liked the suit long before the TO 2nd ed updates. (And I can guarantee that despite it being one of 2nd ed's biggest winners, the Phalanx was no factor whatsoever in creating the new BA options.)
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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Phalanx Battle Armor
« Reply #16 on: 05 May 2012, 15:11:56 »
LCC, what are you going to do with the rest of the BA platoons? Remember, the FWL runs 5-squad BA platoons, so a proper "Eaglenova" requires at least a short company of 'mechs.

Eaglenova. I may have to keep that one...
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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Phalanx Battle Armor
« Reply #17 on: 05 May 2012, 16:34:12 »
I always forget about that. You could split the 5th squad amongst the 4 mechs in a lance, since they have the carrying capacity, although a the board game you'd have a little more paper work as the unit essentially shifted between squads and stars.

A group of eagles is called a Convocation - we can use that name to differentiate my 3 lance/3platoon organization from 10 mech/10 squad Eaglenovas  O0

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Phalanx Battle Armor
« Reply #18 on: 05 May 2012, 16:48:28 »
My plan for my Eaglenova(or whatever it ends up called) is 12 'mechs, 10 squads of BA. The two suitless omnis will probably be fire support configs that would lag behind the rest of the force, so suits mounted on them would be wasted except as defensive units anyway.
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"It's just that the Hegemony had one answer to every naval problem. 'I kills it with my battleships.'" - Liam's Ghost
"...finally, giant space panties don't seem so strange." - Whistler
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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Phalanx Battle Armor
« Reply #19 on: 05 May 2012, 16:58:33 »
I like it.

Although for a combine arms smorgasbord of goodness, make it a mixed company of Omnis and OmniVees. :D
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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Phalanx Battle Armor
« Reply #20 on: 05 May 2012, 17:05:45 »
I might, though the only OmniVee the FWL gets per the MUL is the Schiltron. I love that thing, but it might not fit well with my ideas.

[Edit] It's a shame I'm going for a pre-Jihad force, as OmniMech selection gets a lot easier afterwards. Over twice as many Clan omni chassis as IS ones! :o
« Last Edit: 05 May 2012, 17:09:38 by Weirdo »
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LastChanceCav

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Phalanx Battle Armor
« Reply #21 on: 05 May 2012, 19:08:22 »
My plan for my Eaglenova(or whatever it ends up called) is 12 'mechs, 10 squads of BA. The two suitless omnis will probably be fire support configs that would lag behind the rest of the force, so suits mounted on them would be wasted except as defensive units anyway.

That would work well with the company I was thinking of, the Blackjacks can go BA-less and could bout configs like the A, B, E and F. Maybe pack the whole unit on a Union that's had the Fighter bays replaced with space for the BA.

All this combined arms talk makes me yearn even more for a broader selection of Heavy battle armor for the IS. Is there any fluff for the Grey Death Heavy? The only places I've seen it are the MUL and RS.

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sillybrit

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Phalanx Battle Armor
« Reply #22 on: 06 May 2012, 00:03:00 »
Nope, no fluff yet for the GDH.  :(

Isanova

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Phalanx Battle Armor
« Reply #23 on: 06 May 2012, 01:34:05 »
They need to design BA suits with big handlebars, that way a single Omnimech can carry seven of them at a time.
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Jellico

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Phalanx Battle Armor
« Reply #24 on: 07 May 2012, 01:11:09 »
I have had nothing but bad luck with this suit. For some reason 4xSRM4s attract attention and 'Mechs kill them, ignoring the stealth armor.

Dark_Falcon

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Phalanx Battle Armor
« Reply #25 on: 09 May 2012, 21:56:48 »
I cannot find the 1D6 against battle armor rule for the King David in either the Tac-Ops PDF or the Errata PDF.  Could someone please tell me where to look?
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sillybrit

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Phalanx Battle Armor
« Reply #26 on: 09 May 2012, 22:11:08 »
Download the errata file from this thread and search the PDF for "King David".

Dark_Falcon

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Phalanx Battle Armor
« Reply #27 on: 09 May 2012, 22:30:39 »
Download the errata file from this thread and search the PDF for "King David".

Thank you.  O0
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Neufeld

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Phalanx Battle Armor
« Reply #28 on: 10 May 2012, 06:45:09 »
Or download the shiny new updated TacOps released today.

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Phalanx Battle Armor
« Reply #29 on: 14 May 2012, 18:47:10 »
how much damage does the King David do vs Mechs?
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