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Author Topic: Battle Armor of the Week - Tengu Heavy Battle Armor  (Read 3048 times)

sillybrit

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Battle Armor of the Week - Tengu Heavy Battle Armor
« on: 26 July 2012, 22:26:00 »
Tengu Heavy Battle Armor - Technical Readout 3075 page 33



     Vying with the Shedu Assault Battle Armor as the most experimental of the Demon series, at least according to the descriptions in Technical Readout 3075, the Tengu is the sole heavy design in the series, bridging the gap between the lighter suits and the big boys. Like the smaller Djinn, it's also one of the more visually appealing of the Blakist Battle Armor artwork, with a stance that just screams attitude and with a BFG to boot.

     Maelwys: I can see how some people would dislike the look though. Seen from the side in the TRO, it almost looks like a cross between a LAM and a suit of Battle Armor. The miniature is also rather interesting, bringing to mind a ProtoMech more than Battle Armor.

     The second Demon battlesuit to be fielded in 3070, just after the bantamweight Djinn, the Tengu was naturally also one of the first into battle, during the Blakist purging of Gibson, alongside its lighter cousins and the more mundane and familiar Purifier. From the beginning, the Tengu was seen with a plethora of variations, some taking advantage of the left-arm Modular weapon Mount, and others with differing hardwired configurations. The write-up in Technical Readout 3075 suggests that this may be because the Tengu was indeed something of a testbed, presumably intended to help with the design of the later models in the Demon family of Battle Armor. Only four variations are given stats in the Readout, and of those the pair with modular capability have only a single configuration, while other observed sub-models receive only a brief mention in the fluff text, with many more left completely undescribed. Whether the experiments with the Tengu covered more than just weaponry, such as modular jump jets - which would require rule changes in game terms - overall the Demon series tends towards fixed armament, with nothing really new or unusual other than the introduction of Detachable Weapon Packs, so whatever the purpose of the experiments might have been, they apparently didn't amount to much.

     Common to all the known Tengu variants so far, perhaps the most unusual feature is that it has enhanced ground speed, able to reach the heady heights of 21.6kph, which translates to a whole two Movement Points. Before you get giddy with excitement, it should be remembered that while useful in allowing the Tengu to more rapidly move around in buildings and other enclosed spaces where jump jets can't be used, the suit is incapable of generating a Target Movement Modifier while on the ground.

     Like many Battle Armor designs, the Tengu also possesses jump jets, in this case able to propel the suit sixty meters at a time, but this also falls short of being able to generate a Target Movement Modifier due to distance moved alone, instead only getting the standard +1 due to the movement mode. In some terrain, that shorter jump capacity will prevent the Tengu from being able to jump, or at least force the operator to select a different destination than the one desired. Still, something is better than nothing, and in many battles this will be the movement mode used the most, allowing the Tengu to ignore trees and similar impediments, while hopefully dodging some of the incoming fire.

     Perhaps most important for the combined arms operations favored by the Blakists, as a Heavy Battle Armor design, the Tengu is also capable of hitching a ride on friendly Omnis, whether 'Mechs or vehicles. A pair of simple Basic Manipulators provides the necessary capability, although under the revised constructions rules a single manipulator would suffice. At least one custom Tengu does mount heavier manipulators; however, this is just mentioned in fluff and so is not considered available by many players, counting it as effectively a non-canon design. Given the Heavy chassis, the upgrade doesn't really do much in the BattleTech game, although if you were to field the suit in RPG scenarios it would have an effect on the melee capability.

     The Tengu's armor is a respectable thickness, notably exceeding the key benchmark of being able to survive a standard PPC hit. The suit shares a similar relationship to the Gnome, the seminal Clan Heavy, as the Medium-sized IS Standard does to the Elemental, mounting one point less armor that its Clan counterpart, a none too subtle reminder of the superiority of Clan Battle Armor, even for a design that is arguably among the most advanced in the Inner Sphere. Excusing more stealthy materials that could have compensated for the lower mobility, the Tengu exploits the lower mass of Advanced composites to cram in thirteen points of armor in the original two variants, reducing this by a single point in the later pair. Both values sit somewhat uncomfortably in the eyes of some Battle Armor designers, who typically either want to max the armor protection or to fit just enough to reach one of the damage thresholds. As a Heavy, even with maxed armor the Tengu can't reach the golden standard of being able to survive a Gauss Rifle hit - although it could if the Manei Domini inside had Myomer Full-Body Implants - so some designers would have been satisfied with just ten points, thus allowing a larger payload. Personally, while I agree it's not the most efficient allocation of mass, I like the armor rating as it is; it's one of the quirks of the design, always falling just a little short of perfection.

     One of the first variants to be fielded, the aptly named Standard has a Spartan simplicity, possessing just a single Modular Weapon Mount partnered by nothing more than a solitary Anti-Personnel Weapon Mount. Despite the flexibility of the main mount, only one configuration has been given stats, and prior to the recent update to Tactical Operations it was something of a lackluster configuration at that, thanks to the choice of the Man-Portable Plasma Rifle. Originally an overweight, mediocre weapon that was outperformed by lighter options, the MP Plasma Rifle has been turned into an unholy terror when used against other Battle Armor, allowing a Level I of Tengus to devastate enemy Points and squads with just a single salvo. While I was never a fan of the MP Plasma Rifle prior to the buff, I've long had a fondness for the Tengu Standard with its clean and simple design, great looks and slightly goofy characteristics. It's maybe not a stellar performer, but it's a solid heavy trooper, of a type seriously lacking in the Inner Sphere's arsenal, and I can't but help feel a little sad that with the fall of the Word that the Tengu shall fade away.

     Maelwys: Simple, solid, and now, at least, hard hitting against some targets. Still, it’s hard to flip the page and see the Grenadier and compare the two. With the change to the way the M-P Plasma Rifle works, the two designs may be more evenly matched if they go up against each other.

     Operating alongside the Tengu Standard is the Support variant, which simply reduces the capacity of the Modular Weapon Mount to weld a detachable one-shot SRM launcher to the torso. Unable to jump until it fires off the trio of missiles, the Support can be awkward to use well, forcing the user to choose between firepower and mobility. Wait too long and you give the enemy an easier shot, potentially eliminating the SRMs (and the suit) before they're used, but fire too early and you possibly risk missing out on a better opportunity later. The Tengu Support has the defacto standard 200kg capacity for its Modular Weapon Mount, with the sole canon configuration opting for the Light Recoilless Rifle, a good choice given the available mass and space.

     As a side note, for those with early prints of Technical Readout 3075, like other designs in that publication, the Tengu's design notes include the amount of spare mass that is available for the Anti-Personnel Weapon Mount. The rules have been clarified since the Readout was originally produced and nowadays Battle Armor do not have to allocate any mass to their Anti-Personnel weapons, just the 5kg apiece for the mounts themselves. The only limitation that exists now is that the weapons can only be Standard type, such as rifles and SMGs, and not Melee or Support class weapons. Of course, with the default Total War rules treating all Anti-Personnel Weapon Mounts as if they're carrying Auto Rifles, your choice of payload is moot unless using the partly documented optional rules that use the stats of the actual installed weaponry. Although described in the Tech Manual, the use of non-generic Anti-Personnel weapon stats for Battle Armor isn't explicitly allowed in Total War, but few players quibble over the issue given that Conventional Infantry are described as allowing non-generic stats.

     Maelwys: The fluffy choice for the Tengu is of course the Mauser 1200, developed by the Word of Blake as a replacement for the scarce Star League-era Mauser 960.

     Doctor Devon Cortland, aka Precentor Vapula, and the rest of the Word of Blake didn't rest on their laurels with the Tengu and the multitude of custom and experimental versions eventually resulted in four more standardized variants. Two of those are have full stats published in Technical Readout 3075, while two more are described in the write-up, and assuming that the Master Unit List is anything to go by, the latter pair are likely to see a Record Sheet one day.

     Entering production in the mid-3070s, both of the published newer variants share the use of Detachable Weapon Packs, a technology first invented by Clan Hell's Horses in 3072 and then copied by the Blakists the following year. Exchanging mobility for a heavier payload, I have to wonder whether the characteristics of the Detachable Weapon Pack drove the original Tengu design in the first place, at least in out-of-universe terms. Allowing a suit to mount a non-missile weapon for just three-quarters of its true mass, Detachable Weapon Packs reduce the ground speed of Heavy and Assault suits by two Movement Points, with a result of zero adjusted up to one. That means that the Tengu has the minimum ground speed needed to be able to use Detachable Weapon Packs, perhaps the real behind-the-scenes explanation why the suit has the movement stats it possesses. Detachable Weapon Packs also prevent Battle Armor from jumping, but as the name suggests they can be detached, restoring full mobility if all such Packs are jettisoned, at the cost of losing the weapon(s).

     Maelwys: Non-quad Battle Armor HAVE to spend weight on ground MP in order to utilize the DWP. Of course, I can't help but think that if you're redesigning the suit by ripping off armor to allow the suit to carry heavier weapons with the DWP, why not rip out the jump jets that are going to be worthless for 90% of the suit's operation (They'll get some play if the MD runs out of ammo and ditches the weapon to jump home...that's it)? Sure, you won't be able to squeeze a Medium VSP on the suit, but you could pack a MPL or ERML. You can perhaps justify both the jump jets and the ground movement on the standard Tengu, but it becomes much harder to justify the 250kg spent on the jump jets on these configurations.

     First seen in 3074, the Small Variable-Speed Pulse Laser variant introduced the weapon of the same name to the Battle Armor world, offering increased range compared to the lighter Small Pulse Laser, together with improved accuracy and damage at shorter distances. The laser does have reduced accuracy at Long range and is not as effective against infantry compared to the Small Pulse, and I must admit it's not my first choice for weaponry, but it is a signature Blakist weapon and thus is a good choice for any Demon series suit. Despite the mass reduction thanks to the Detachable Weapon Pack, the laser is so heavy that Precentor Vapula was forced to reduce the armor by one point, and like the Tengu Standard the Tengu Small VSP Laser variant has just a single Anti-Personnel Weapon Mount as backup for its main armament.

     The following year saw another laser variant being fielded, this time mounting a Medium Laser for greater reach and long range punch instead of the newer Variable-Speed Pulse Laser. Both versions have the adherents and personally I favor the Medium Laser for its longer range, which better mitigates the reduced mobility imposed by the Detachable Weapon Pack. The slower speed and lack of jump capability does tend to restrict the two laser variants to defensive operations, where they can lay in wait for unwary opponents to wander into range. With good coordination with transports, whether Omnis or more traditional APCs, it is possible to use the two laser variants in a more offensive role, and it can really ruin an opponent’s day if you can drop off a Level I of Tengu Medium Laser suits into their backfield.

     The Standard and Support also benefit from good transport, but both are more capable of operating without such assistance, although the Support variant does suffer a little until it can ditch its missile pack. Both are naturals in urban combat, exploiting their ground speed to more rapidly move around within buildings, and the cover those buildings provide also make it more likely that the Support will survive to offload its SRMs without having to salvo them off at the first opportunity. Between the pair, the Standard now offers the general purpose and anti-Battle Armor firepower, while the Support is the infantry killer and provider of heavy spike damage or even Inferno capability. Of course, both variants could actually switch their main weapon, so a Standard could be fitted with a Medium Recoilless Rifle to provide any necessary anti-personnel firepower, while the King David would offer good long-range anti-Battle Armor performance at the cost of reduced ability against other targets when compared to the base MP Plasma Rifle.

     Technical Readout 3075 mentions two more variants, one a combat electronics suit and the other an alternative to the Support version. Originally described as having twin five-tube rocket launchers, which would have been impossible, the latter variant possesses a pair of torso-mounted four-tube Rocket Launchers - undoubtedly detachable - backed up by a single Machine Gun and twin Battle Claws. That armament can be installed on the original Standard/Support chassis, without any alterations apart from the obvious change to the manipulators, so presumably the armor is also 13 points of Advanced. Given the uncertainty of the actual stats, it's obviously difficult to evaluate the Rocket Launcher variant, but the suit offers a viable anti-tank design that can potentially crit vehicles  from outside of SRM range, although the reduced accuracy of the rockets doesn't help. The Machine Gun is a passable backup weapon; however it does suffer on the modern battlefield due to its short range, with many conventional infantry platoons able to shoot further.

     The configuration of the C3I variant is easy to guess from the clues given, if we can take the Readout fluff at face value. It's apparently unarmed and it supposedly mounts a C3I module, which just neatly happens to mass the same as the 350kg payload available if you remove all the weaponry from a Standard or Support version. Of course, it's possible that there might be some other tweaks, or that the in-universe observations are slightly off, so we'll just have to wait and see when an Unabridged Record Sheets 3075 comes out. Personally, I'm not completely convinced by C3- or C3I-equipped Battle Armor, they have to give up too much in my opinion, just to provide a niche spotter that can be neutralized by a single ECM suite. Of course, within that niche they can sometimes be brutal, as anybody lacking ECM or infantry who has had to deal with one barricaded in heavy buildings can attest.

      All that said, there is one important question that has to be asked about the C3I variant: given that they're intended for Manei Domini and that many if not most Manei Domini Battle Armor troopers have C3I capability thanks to their cyberware implants, just why did the Word bother with the variant? Sure, some Manei Domini don't have the required cyberware, but is it worth designing and building a whole new variant, one that is unarmed and all but worthless if its C3I link is jammed, just for those few Manei Domini? The question is even more pointed when it's remembered that only two-thirds of a Level I needs to have the necessary cyberware to form a C3I node, allowing plenty of slack for the unequipped. It may have been that the Word eventually intended to field the Tengu in their non-cybered forces, but according to Technical Readout 3075 at least, the design was rarely if ever seen outside the Shadow Divisions.

     One of the better suits from the Demon series, the Tengu is a good heavy trooper. It has its flaws, and I know I'm more forgiving of those flaws in the Tengu than I perhaps would be with other designs, simply because it looked right from the very first glance. Out of the known variants so far, my preference in overall performance terms is the Standard, followed by the Medium Laser version, while the others lag behind. I wish the Tengu Standard in particular could be saved from the history books, but with the Blakists gone that is an unlikely chance, so I guess I'll just have to content myself with fond memories and the occasional retro scenario.

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EDIT: Added the end of a sentence that I'd accidentally deleted while formating the post.
« Last Edit: 26 July 2012, 22:38:02 by sillybrit »

Maelwys

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Tengu Heavy Battle Armor
« Reply #1 on: 26 July 2012, 23:58:47 »
I still think people are looking at the armor wrong.

Its not that the suit can't survive a Gauss rifle hit, or that its so over armored to let it survive a PPC shot, its that the suit has enough armor to survive being shot with 2 Inner Sphere Medium Pulse lasers. Or if you stick a MD pilot with Dermal Armor into the suit, it can survive 2 Clan Medium Pulse/ER laser shots. If my opponent feels the need to expend GR/Clan ERPPC shots on my BA in order to kill them because they're worried that with 13 armor and 6 troopers they'll have to shoot the Level I more than a dozen times with smaller weapons to kill them...well, those are shots that aren't hitting my Celestials.

sillybrit

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Tengu Heavy Battle Armor
« Reply #2 on: 27 July 2012, 00:22:12 »
However, the same multi-shot capacity can be said of many Battle Armor designs, just with differing weaponry, some much more common than the MPL, for example. The reason why the one-shot kill threshold is so important is that it doesn't allow the random allocation of hits among the squad members to have any effect. For example, an AC20 hitting a full Level I of Shedus is a guaranteed one shot kill, whereas you'd have to hit with seven AC10s to guarantee a kill. Four or five AC10 hits perhaps should do it before the dice gods are unkind to the Battle Armor, but that still means a higher volume of fire is required than that single AC20 shot. Given that Battle Armor remain just as effective at zero armor as they do with no damage, you need to kill individual suits as quickly as possible, not just damage multiple suits.

Jim1701

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Tengu Heavy Battle Armor
« Reply #3 on: 27 July 2012, 13:01:59 »
However, the same multi-shot capacity can be said of many Battle Armor designs, just with differing weaponry, some much more common than the MPL, for example. The reason why the one-shot kill threshold is so important is that it doesn't allow the random allocation of hits among the squad members to have any effect. For example, an AC20 hitting a full Level I of Shedus is a guaranteed one shot kill, whereas you'd have to hit with seven AC10s to guarantee a kill. Four or five AC10 hits perhaps should do it before the dice gods are unkind to the Battle Armor, but that still means a higher volume of fire is required than that single AC20 shot. Given that Battle Armor remain just as effective at zero armor as they do with no damage, you need to kill individual suits as quickly as possible, not just damage multiple suits.

+1

Maelwys

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Tengu Heavy Battle Armor
« Reply #4 on: 28 July 2012, 07:29:37 »
Oh, I agree that the single shot threshold is important, I just don't think it should be the only way to look at the armor of the Battle Armor.

Of course, 14 or 13 or even 12 armor doesn't mean much when your opponent brings infernos. :)

Jellico

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Tengu Heavy Battle Armor
« Reply #5 on: 28 July 2012, 17:08:08 »
Is the purpose of the two MP to allow the DWP?

Maelwys

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Tengu Heavy Battle Armor
« Reply #6 on: 28 July 2012, 18:53:52 »
Is the purpose of the two MP to allow the DWP?

Chicken/Egg situation. The 2 Ground Movement is required for the DWP, but whether the movement was decided on first, or the DWP was, who knows.

Although its sort of silly. Yes, you need 2 Ground movement for the DWP. But the only versions that use a DWP are presumably factory-modified variants (Since they have a reduction in armor) where you could modify the movement as well.

Though if you're into customizing, the standard versions can mount a DWP.

Weirdo

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Tengu Heavy Battle Armor
« Reply #7 on: 30 July 2012, 11:37:36 »
To me, the weird movement profile of the Tengu makes it useful when fighting from a very specific area of a city that most infantry and battlesuits perfer to avoid: the rooftops. These are usually avoided since troops gain no benefit from the building there, and can be directly targeted. Jumping suits can use them, but are often at a disadvantage if building destruction forces them to the ground. Tengus can fight from roofs, using the range many of their weapons give them to strike at ranges beyond normally encountered in city fights, and also to spot for indirect fire across very long potential distances. When threatened, they can jump across streets to other rooftops, while if forced to the ground, they have the ground speed to quickly find another building and do some serious stair-climbing.

Obviously the various DWP configs would be used as ambush units, dropping their heavy packs when they need to leave their positions, then becoming mobile spotters and anti-mech-attackers.
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Kane

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Tengu Heavy Battle Armor
« Reply #8 on: 30 July 2012, 11:59:05 »
This is definatly one good looking BA. It is also deadly against other BA with that Plasma Rifle.

Ratwedge

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Tengu Heavy Battle Armor
« Reply #9 on: 30 July 2012, 12:52:17 »
The standard Tengu's are the type of suit you want to take with you as a Wobbie when you want to go door to door spreading the Word of Blake. With the upgrade to its weapon, its gone from my last pick to my first simply because it can now actually fight and take care of enemy Battle Armor for me. It really went from subpar to my main Battle Armor overnight thanks in no part to that buff.

If my enemy is mainly bringing Battlemechs then I have to use the Tengu-Medium Laser.  Without a doubt the first Battle Armor suit I go for when I want to deploy a Choir as it can turn even some of the most lightly armed Celestial's into terrors by the sheer fact that they can drop off what amounts to a Blackhawk-Ku's arm in firepower where they are at a moments notice.  While I do use them like Weirdo suggested, as ambushers, I have found they are just at home if not better at working alongside Omnimechs as something that enhances their offensive power.

I simply have come to respect both its ruggedness, its various configurations and weird movement profile. Also it helps that it looks great. Sure you can consider the movement profile a waste of precious kilograms worth of equipment but as Weirdo so kindly pointed out it gets the best of both worlds when it is in the right environment. I find that the Tengu is one step away from greatness but makes makes it work anyway. It also constantly earns its place in my forces as the primary Battle Armor for Choir formations and any WoB force that uses Omnimechs.

 

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