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Author Topic: Battle Armor of the Week - Gladiator Combat Exoskeleton  (Read 8786 times)

sillybrit

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Battle Armor of the Week - Gladiator Combat Exoskeleton
« on: 16 January 2013, 02:21:14 »
Gladiator Combat Exoskeleton - Technical Readout Vehicle Annex page 185



     When first seen, the Gladiator was one of those few units that do exactly what it says on the tin. Built to fight in the Class One league of the mechanized fight pits of Solaris VII, the original Gladiator was tailored for that task and that alone, being little more than a death trap outside the artificial confines of the arena. From this limited beginning, a new variant is finally breaking the mold, based upon a custom version owned by one of the stars of the circuit and tweaked further to suit the troops of the Inner Sphere instead of the cheering crowds.

     The Gladiator was first published in Technical Readout Vehicle Annex, and has now been re-published in the revised version of the Readout. Along with the general editing, and some new units and variants, the revision expands upon the stats for many units described in the original Readout. In the case of the Gladiator, a design quirk and manufacturer details have been added and we also have a suggested manipulator configuration.

     Introduced in 3056 by Solaris Arms, better known for their custom BattleMechs than for their lowly combat exoskeleton, the basic Gladiator isn't really much to look at when compared to militarized PA(L)s, let alone full-sized battle armor. The suit is only capable of moving at the speed of an unaugmented human and also lacks any built-in ranged weaponry. The Gladiator does mount the maximum armor for an exoskeleton, which isn't saying much in battlefield terms if we're being brutally honest, plus it must also be noted that the suit lacks environmental sealing, which would also limit its combat potential outside of the artificial confines of the arena.

     The Gladiator's main feature is its twin modular equipment adaptors, which allows it to be fitted with any manipulator types, even twin Heavy Vibro-Claws, thanks to the 200kg capacity remaining after accounting for the bare chassis. The fluff in Technical Readout Vehicle Annex does mention the use of various melee weapons as well, which technically can't be wielded under the Total War rules, but I strongly suspect that most arena fighters agree to follow the RPG rules instead, otherwise they'd be unable to harm each other. The original Readout didn't actually assign any standard manipulators, which can be awkward for players who want to use strictly canon units, which is a problem addressed in the revised Readout with the choice between either a twin armored glove configuration or one that combines a battle claw with an industrial drill.

     With the bare minimum mobility for powered armor, moving on the ground at a mere one Movement Point per Turn, wrapped in an all but negligible two points of armor, the Gladiator is neither going to win many foot races nor withstand much more than harsh language. The latter probably leads to short and bloody matches in the arena, which perhaps makes the proles sated and happy, but in the BattleTech game your best use of a Gladiator is as an initiative sink or - if you're feeling particularly frisky - a spotter. Assuming the use of at least one armored glove, you could equip the suit with an infantry weapon, however even the most powerful guns will inflict relatively little damage with a successful attack due to the small size of powered armor units. With the right manipulators and no small measure of good fortune, a Gladiator unit might find itself in the position to inflict an Anti-'Mech attack, which can be very satisfying if you get lucky with the dice rolls. Of course, such satisfaction is unfortunately likely to be short lived for the Gladiator squad.

     Solaris Arms did try to sell the Anti-'Mech capability when offering the Gladiator to the militaries of the Inner Sphere, but the company found no buyers and so the design languished in the arenas of Solaris VII. Despite being restricted to such a limited market, Solaris Arms produced at least one known variant in 3076, albeit one that was produced solely for their most prized fighter. Published in Experimental Technical Readout Gladiators and operated by Abasi Oteke, a twenty year veteran and star of the Class One circuit, "The Spider" is really just a custom refit rather than a true variant, but it does eventually help the Gladiator to break free from its shackles and escape the confines of the Games.

    Removing the modular equipment adaptors, the Spider possesses a fixed armored glove on its right arm, while the left as a Battle Vibro-Claw. The Vibro-Claw allows the Spider to inflict damage during Swarm attacks as well as during melee combat with other infantry, while the glove retains the ability to carry an infantry weapon. Not content with these changes to the suit's "armament", Solaris Arms also upgraded the ground motive capability and added Mechanical Jump Boosters, thus providing a limited jump capability. Now able to run three Movement Points or leap thirty meters at a time, the Spider is much more mobile than the basic model, to the point that it now makes for a marginally viable urban scout.

     Invented by the Lyrans and first seen in larger form on 'Mechs, the Jump Boosters do at least allow the Spider to generate a Target Movement Modifier when both running and jumping, but the limitations of the system mean that the prevent the suit from making an Anti-'Mech attack in the Turn that they're used, plus they don't provide any cushioning effect for falls.

     With the same armor as the base suit, the Spider's last customization is the installation of Magnetic Clamps. More commonly used by military suits to hitch a ride on non-Omni 'Mechs and vehicles, Oteke used the clamps to cling to any handy metallic structures in the arenas, allowing him to drop onto his foes as they pass by underneath, hopefully catching them by surprise. This tactic appears to be the origin of the refit's nickname.

     During the Jihad, Oteke fought for the Solaris Home Defense League to help oust the Blakist occupiers of Solaris VII, losing a leg in the process and thus finally ending his fight career. Solaris Arms also suffered, losing all of its manufacturing plants and having donated, willingly or otherwise, most of its ready inventory. Unable to stay in business, the company folded and its technical databases were bought by StarCorps, a recent entrant to the world of combat powered suits. The new owners decided that the Spider, appropriately modified for military use with consultancy assistance from Oteke, would be an excellent sales prospect in the post-Jihad world. With reduced construction capability throughout the Inner Sphere, as well as tightened budgets, potential buyers were far more willing to consider fielding mere PA(L)s and Exoskeletons instead of more capable but more expensive Battle Armor.

     Introduced in Technical Readout Prototypes and dubbed the Gladiator-S, the refined and mass-produced version of the Spider is still designated and designed as an Exoskeleton rather than a PA(L), which is unusual for a suit intended for military use. While it has the requisite armor, the Gladiator-S lacks an Extended Life Support system, which means that it cannot be used in hostile atmospheres or vacuums, a weakness that could have been avoided by simply building it as a PA(L) instead. Other than an Exoskeleton chassis having a lower Tech rating and easier availability, there's no other difference between it and a Powered Armor (Light) chassis, so there's really no reason for the Gladiator-S to be an Exoskeleton.

     The Gladiator-S went on sale in 3084, using footage of Oteke's fights in the arena and against the Blakist invaders to help market the design, but oddly enough StarCorps have decided to limit production. As of Technical Readout Prototypes, the design is mostly sold to small mercenary units, primarily those with corporate contracts in what are described as semi-hostile environments. Presumably the latter refers to the likelihood of being shot at rather than dangerous atmospheric conditions given the lack of Extended Life Support.

     The improvements to the Gladiator-S over the original Spider are relatively modest, consisting of forearm-mounted Anti-Personnel Weapon Mounts as well as an increase to the ground speed. The latter doesn't improve the ability to generate Target Movement Modifiers, but being able to move a fourth hex each Turn can obviously be very useful at times.

     As noted above, the original Gladiator can be used as an initiative sink and spotter, and occasionally might manage an Anti-'Mech attack, but that's about it for standard BattleTech scenarios. With the right manipulators, the suit can technically be a decent marine boarding unit, able to achieve up to 3.25 points per suit, bizarrely making it superior to an IS Standard armed with a Small Laser, the latter suit providing just 2 points each. Yet again this highlights the somewhat silly nature of the marine boarding system if you look too closely, considering that during BattleTech scenarios the IS Standard could one-shot kill the Gladiator at up to 90 meters, while the Gladiator would require five Turns at melee range to kill its foe. Both the Spider and Gladiator-S provide only 2 marine points, but personally I still consider that to be too generous.

     The Spider's manipulator configuration provides an example of probably the best all round setup, offering some melee capability - including the ability to attack other infantry - as well as being able to wield weapons up to and including the Man-Portable Plasma Rifle. The glove/vibro combo loses out on pure melee performance compared to twin vibro or twin magnetic manipulators, but being able to actually shoot an opponent at up to 270 meters away, depending upon the weaponry carried, shouldn't be discounted. More importantly, wielding an infantry TAG instead of a gun effectively allows the Gladiator to "wield" a far bigger hammer if the appropriate fire support is available.

     The paired AP Weapon Mounts fitted to the Gladiator-S don't add any extra capability under the Total War rules, given that only a single weapon may be fired each Turn, but many players allow different weapons to be installed on each mount, each covering a different role. One such mix might be an ER Laser Rifle on one arm for long range fire, a M42B for greater short range firepower on the other, and then an infantry TAG wielded in the glove. The increased ground speed and limited jump capability of both the Spider and Gladiator-S make them more viable combatants, at least in cities, but the lack of armor and limited heavy firepower still restrict their performance compared to real Battle Armor.

     Whether as a flavor piece or for the simple entertainment of fielding such a unit, the Gladiator family isn't likely to be a common player choice, matching its limited in-universe deployment. With the Gladiator and its variants you get what you pay for, and with such a low BV and CBill cost, it should not be of any surprise that you're not buying yourself a game breaker when you add them to your force.

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UnLimiTeD

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Gladiator Combat Exoskeleton
« Reply #1 on: 16 January 2013, 12:53:15 »
Nothing like properly starting the week with a pair of fresh BA Articles.
Well, ok, I missed them for a bit.
Quite the quirky designs you picked this time.  ::)

I just try imagining these things boarding a ship and smashing up the interior stone age style. It's an odd picture....
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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Gladiator Combat Exoskeleton
« Reply #2 on: 16 January 2013, 13:44:30 »
Always loved the concept of the design, fighting in melee games on Solaris 7.  I wish melee side with weapons was more main stream TW.  I've yet to see it in action in ATOW.
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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Gladiator Combat Exoskeleton
« Reply #3 on: 16 January 2013, 17:24:00 »
I've got to admit that when I designed the Spider for XTRO Gladiator, I didn't think it would be of any great note. I just looked at what equipment was allowed and tried to come up with the craziest design I could think of.
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sillybrit

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Gladiator Combat Exoskeleton
« Reply #4 on: 16 January 2013, 18:02:18 »
And within the limits of a PA(L)/Exo chassis you did a crazy good job. The Spider keeps to the theme of a melee design and the extra equipment can easily be visualized to provide an advantage in the arena, without going for the 'cheap' approach of just adding a couple of Heavy Vibro-Claws.

Sadly, any PA(L)/Exo is always going to be in the shadow of their larger brothers - even the more capable light battle armor are eclipsed by mediums - and thus no matter how well crafted they may be, they'll always struggle in BT scenarios.

wellspring

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Gladiator Combat Exoskeleton
« Reply #5 on: 16 January 2013, 20:05:54 »
Quick question: where does it say that mechanical jump boosters don't protect against falls (presumably in combat drops, for example). I mean, it makes sense, but I can't find the rule for it.

Diablo48

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Gladiator Combat Exoskeleton
« Reply #6 on: 16 January 2013, 21:24:43 »
Sadly, any PA(L)/Exo is always going to be in the shadow of their larger brothers - even the more capable light battle armor are eclipsed by mediums - and thus no matter how well crafted they may be, they'll always struggle in BT scenarios.

Actually, this makes me wonder how they stack up against conventional infantry.  A really basic PA(L) suit should be easy to strap onto existing PBI with minimal training to give them drastically improved protection against most anti-infantry weapons which go from slaughtering tons of guys to maybe dropping one suit, and the firepower does not suffer if you use more "squads" to make up the difference in numbers.  This would work very nicely with Clan organization because your 25-man infantry point would essentially be using squad deployment at all times with its 5-man sub-elements treated as separate units.


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sillybrit

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Gladiator Combat Exoskeleton
« Reply #7 on: 16 January 2013, 21:25:19 »
Quick question: where does it say that mechanical jump boosters don't protect against falls (presumably in combat drops, for example). I mean, it makes sense, but I can't find the rule for it.

It's in this ask TPTB thread.

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Gladiator Combat Exoskeleton
« Reply #8 on: 16 January 2013, 22:10:10 »
Actually, this makes me wonder how they stack up against conventional infantry.  A really basic PA(L) suit should be easy to strap onto existing PBI with minimal training to give them drastically improved protection against most anti-infantry weapons which go from slaughtering tons of guys to maybe dropping one suit, and the firepower does not suffer if you use more "squads" to make up the difference in numbers.  This would work very nicely with Clan organization because your 25-man infantry point would essentially be using squad deployment at all times with its 5-man sub-elements treated as separate units.

Although PA(L)s are less vulnerable to the specialist anti-infantry weapons, that tends to be more than balanced by the fact that most units tend to have many more anti-armor weapons than they have of those anti-infantry weapons. Combined with the typically longer ranges of anti-armor vs anti-infantry, together with the small PA(L) unit size and their relatively weak protection, that doesn't really do much for their battlefield survival.

If we could simply put an infantry platoon in PA(L)s and keep them as a platoon, that'd be a different matter, but then we'd end up with an overpowerful unit that'd make battle armor squads pale in comparison. Just imagine a platoon of 28 PA(L)s armed with a 4-shot SRM1 or 25 PA(L)s with an AP Gauss, backed up by every suit wielding support-class infantry weapons like the MP Plasma Rifle or Bearhunter.

Diablo48

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Gladiator Combat Exoskeleton
« Reply #9 on: 16 January 2013, 23:20:12 »
Although PA(L)s are less vulnerable to the specialist anti-infantry weapons, that tends to be more than balanced by the fact that most units tend to have many more anti-armor weapons than they have of those anti-infantry weapons. Combined with the typically longer ranges of anti-armor vs anti-infantry, together with the small PA(L) unit size and their relatively weak protection, that doesn't really do much for their battlefield survival.

Not really.  The heavy weapons will still only kill one trooper at a time, and if you are using them in infantry-sized swarms like I suggested you get the same damage tolerance.  If you consider a Clan PA(L) suit with two points of armor and two armored gloves carrying a Mauser IIC as your basic infantryman deployed in points of 25 troopers broken into 5, 5-man squads then the entire point will require 25 hits from an ERPPC to kill.  This is actually better than what conventional infantry have to deal with because conventional weapons can kill multiple troopers with a single hit, and the PA(L) suits also get to use squad deployment under TW rules because the game rules consider them to be BA rather than infantry.

Quote
If we could simply put an infantry platoon in PA(L)s and keep them as a platoon, that'd be a different matter, but then we'd end up with an overpowerful unit that'd make battle armor squads pale in comparison. Just imagine a platoon of 28 PA(L)s armed with a 4-shot SRM1 or 25 PA(L)s with an AP Gauss, backed up by every suit wielding support-class infantry weapons like the MP Plasma Rifle or Bearhunter.

25 suits is 25 suits.  Even if they are split up into five "units" the only thing that really changes is that you get more options for deployment if you need to spread out.


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wellspring

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Gladiator Combat Exoskeleton
« Reply #10 on: 16 January 2013, 23:22:38 »
It's in this ask TPTB thread.

Ah ha! Great.

Thanks, and wonderful article!

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Gladiator Combat Exoskeleton
« Reply #11 on: 17 January 2013, 00:41:32 »
Not really.  The heavy weapons will still only kill one trooper at a time, and if you are using them in infantry-sized swarms like I suggested you get the same damage tolerance.  If you consider a Clan PA(L) suit with two points of armor and two armored gloves carrying a Mauser IIC as your basic infantryman deployed in points of 25 troopers broken into 5, 5-man squads then the entire point will require 25 hits from an ERPPC to kill.  This is actually better than what conventional infantry have to deal with because conventional weapons can kill multiple troopers with a single hit, and the PA(L) suits also get to use squad deployment under TW rules because the game rules consider them to be BA rather than infantry.

Yes, really. I draw your attention again to the key points that most units have more anti-armor weapons than they have anti-infantry, and that those weapons tend to be longer ranged. Sure, there are specialist units with heavy anti-infantry armaments, such as the Firestarter, for example, but those are relatively few and far between. You're far more likely to encounter enemy units with multiple medium lasers, a common secondary weapon, that can individually kill any PA(L) and do so at triple the range of the MG or flamer, common anti-infantry weapons. ERPPCs really aren't required at all, although obviously they do present the possibility of very long range kills far beyond the reach of any anti-infantry weapon if you don't have any more worthwhile foes to target with your primary weaponry.

As a side note, this very issue is why I still like to pick conventional infantry forces as well as battle armor. I know that there's a reasonable chance that the opposition team will have few if any anti-infantry weapons, meaning that they'll have a harder time dealing with the PBIs. Many players still tend to focus their unit picks on those that can kill enemy 'Mechs and tanks, because they're individually more dangerous foes. Given the choice between a unit armed with a couple of flamers or one with a couple of medium lasers, many players will typically pick the latter in my experience.

Quote
25 suits is 25 suits.  Even if they are split up into five "units" the only thing that really changes is that you get more options for deployment if you need to spread out.

The larger a battle armor/PA(L) unit, the more effective it is, because it becomes harder to concentrate non-one shot kill hits on a single suit. Assuming your example of PA(L)s with 2 armor points, if I hit a 5-suit squad with a pair of SRMs or MG hits, for example, then I have a 1-in-5 chance of killing a suit and thus reducing your firepower, as well as increasing my odds of killing a suit the next turn with a similar attack. If I'm shooting a 25-suit platoon, then it's just a 1-in-25 chance. Of course, weapons that do 3+ points per hit can one-shot kill, but most battle armor designs don't have weapons that can do 3+ point hits, and many of those that do will be relying upon the short ranged Small Laser.

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Gladiator Combat Exoskeleton
« Reply #12 on: 17 January 2013, 01:25:38 »
Yes, really. I draw your attention again to the key points that most units have more anti-armor weapons than they have anti-infantry, and that those weapons tend to be longer ranged. Sure, there are specialist units with heavy anti-infantry armaments, such as the Firestarter, for example, but those are relatively few and far between. You're far more likely to encounter enemy units with multiple medium lasers, a common secondary weapon, that can individually kill any PA(L) and do so at triple the range of the MG or flamer, common anti-infantry weapons. ERPPCs really aren't required at all, although obviously they do present the possibility of very long range kills far beyond the reach of any anti-infantry weapon if you don't have any more worthwhile foes to target with your primary weaponry.

And all those anti armor weapons will still kill at least one infantryman if fired at the infantry. So it works out the same, or slightly better. It's not like conventional foot troops are immune to non-AI weapons.

What you're saying is PALs, man for man, are always superior against anti infantry weapons (as no AI weapon will kill more than a single PAL rather than scads of guys) and against most direct fire weapons, at least as good (if not more, since large direct fire weapons can kill multiple infantry but only a single PAL). It seems to me the only real advantage a conventional infantry unit may have the edge are against small area affect weapons (the big ones being universally devastating to any ground pounders) and maybe cluster weapons, that will potentially affect (if not necessarily kill) larger numbers of PALs than conventional infantry.
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Diablo48

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Gladiator Combat Exoskeleton
« Reply #13 on: 17 January 2013, 02:05:58 »
And all those anti armor weapons will still kill at least one infantryman if fired at the infantry. So it works out the same, or slightly better. It's not like conventional foot troops are immune to non-AI weapons.

What you're saying is PALs, man for man, are always superior against anti infantry weapons (as no AI weapon will kill more than a single PAL rather than scads of guys) and against most direct fire weapons, at least as good (if not more, since large direct fire weapons can kill multiple infantry but only a single PAL). It seems to me the only real advantage a conventional infantry unit may have the edge are against small area affect weapons (the big ones being universally devastating to any ground pounders) and maybe cluster weapons, that will potentially affect (if not necessarily kill) larger numbers of PALs than conventional infantry.

Yes, this is exactly my point.  Also, under TW rules the PA(L)s are actually slightly more resistant to large AE and cluster weapons because the cluster weapons cannot scatter beyond the 5-man squad they hit and the squads within the point will be dispersed over several hexes so some of them may not get caught in the AE weapon.  Of course, these advantages disappear the instant you let the conventional infantry use their own squad deployment rules, but those are not tournament legal which can be a problem for some people.


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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Gladiator Combat Exoskeleton
« Reply #14 on: 17 January 2013, 02:09:04 »
One the turn this into normal infantry front ATOW Companion contains rules for converting personal scale armor values into TT damage divisors right? So what happens when you apply that formula to one of these suits?

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Gladiator Combat Exoskeleton
« Reply #15 on: 17 January 2013, 02:21:49 »
One the turn this into normal infantry front ATOW Companion contains rules for converting personal scale armor values into TT damage divisors right? So what happens when you apply that formula to one of these suits?

If you are referring to the hypothetical PA(L) suits then this would not be relevant as the rules would treat them as BA rather than conventional infantry.  You would just be using multiple TW squads to match the numbers of conventional infantry.  After all, the organizational structure of a unit is just fluff anyways once you hit the tabletop.  I have no idea what the suits would do under the ATOW rules, but they should be better than just about any unpowered body armor out there and offer lots of other forms of protection like full life support because they are still BA even if they are small.

If on the other hand you are talking about the Gladiator specifically then it should follow all the normal rules on the tabletop, although I am not very familiar with the ATOW side of things so I cannot say anything about that.


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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Gladiator Combat Exoskeleton
« Reply #16 on: 17 January 2013, 02:49:00 »
is it even possible for me to talk about the design aesthetics of something that's probably built differently every time it's tuned up?

whatever, it's power armor for gladiators. rule of cool, that's a pretty awesome way to spend an afternoon watching.
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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Gladiator Combat Exoskeleton
« Reply #17 on: 17 January 2013, 05:32:55 »
One thing that makes this design even nastier under the marine points system is that using the BA weights from TacOps you can carry 4 of them for a single IS Standard

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Gladiator Combat Exoskeleton
« Reply #18 on: 17 January 2013, 06:08:31 »
And all those anti armor weapons will still kill at least one infantryman if fired at the infantry. So it works out the same, or slightly better. It's not like conventional foot troops are immune to non-AI weapons.

What you're saying is PALs, man for man, are always superior against anti infantry weapons (as no AI weapon will kill more than a single PAL rather than scads of guys) and against most direct fire weapons, at least as good (if not more, since large direct fire weapons can kill multiple infantry but only a single PAL). It seems to me the only real advantage a conventional infantry unit may have the edge are against small area affect weapons (the big ones being universally devastating to any ground pounders) and maybe cluster weapons, that will potentially affect (if not necessarily kill) larger numbers of PALs than conventional infantry.

Correct, the PBIs will still be losing casualties against anti-armor weapons. They can also decrease those losses through armor kits with a damage divisor of 2, ending up with the same 1 kill per shot as would be suffered by PA(L)s against many weapons that would otherwise kill 2 PBIs, etc.

Apart from anti-infantry weapons and the MPL, to kill more than 1 PBI per shot will require big guns, especially if the PBIs are armored, and if you're doing that then I'm happy that you're not instead shooting them at my teammates' 'Mechs and tanks. To save my larger units, I'd happily have my PBIs eat a Gauss Rifle shot even if it kills 1 (armored) or 2 (unarmored) troopers. If you instead use lighter weapons, then the PBIs are typically going to suffer losses at the same rate as PA(L)s would suffer, especially if the PBIs are armored. The exception to the last point is the very low damage weapons, inflicting just 1 or 2 pts per hit, that don't do enough to kill a PA(L), but still kill a PBI.

So, for most weapons you're going to have to effectively waste firepower to kill PBIs faster than you could kill PA(L)s. Is that really enough to justify switching to PA(L)s considering that you'll also have higher transportation requirements (25t for 25 PA(L)s using TW rules or 6.25t using TO rules versus 2.5t for 25 PBIs)? Add in that the PBIs are superior at remaining hidden, are uneffected by stealth armor, have the option of field guns and can also use secondary weapons, which could potentially result in greater range, flexibility and/or damage. Although not something any sane player would include in a pen & paper game, if you add in the battle armor critical hit rules from ATOW Companion (said rules can be used in BT scenarios), then the pendulum swings a little more in favor of PBIs.

While not a battlefield issue, PA(L)s also have higher procurement costs (75000 CBills for a minimum PA(L) versus as low as 1040 CBills for an armor kit) and higher training costs (it will require extra training to operate even a basic suit).

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Gladiator Combat Exoskeleton
« Reply #19 on: 17 January 2013, 06:46:24 »
So lets just for a moment assume that WoB-Tech will spread over the dark age, and people will be able to field basic biomechanical Infantry (aka Cyborgs), would those be preferable to PA(L)s?
As in, would they be tougher?
Would they be cheaper?
How about flexibility?
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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Gladiator Combat Exoskeleton
« Reply #20 on: 17 January 2013, 07:14:44 »
Various spec ops units were using cyberware even without needing to scavange WoBtech, with the Death Commandos being notable proponents.

As for costs, the implants are hideously expensive once you start installing the combat-useful types, even ignoring those that could be provided by standard infantry equipment, such as sensors or comms, to try to limit costs. And by hideously expensive, I mean that it's possible to be more costly than full-sized battle armor.

In terms of effectiveness, a full-up cyber PBI would still be unable to do certain things that a PA(L) could do, such as mount the heavier 'Mech-scale weaponry, but they can otherwise be scarily effective. You could have an infantryman than halves damage from flame-based weapons, reduces burst fire damage by 1d6 & takes an extra point to kill, and that's before you add in the effect of any armor kit that's being worn. In addition, they could run faster, have built in Active Probe-like capability, C3 capability, and be able to carry more infantry-scale support weapons per squad, with less of an encumbering effect. Just look at the Tau Zombies in TRO3085 for an example of one possible configuration.

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Gladiator Combat Exoskeleton
« Reply #21 on: 17 January 2013, 07:20:00 »
Correct, the PBIs will still be losing casualties against anti-armor weapons. They can also decrease those losses through armor kits with a damage divisor of 2, ending up with the same 1 kill per shot as would be suffered by PA(L)s against many weapons that would otherwise kill 2 PBIs, etc.

Indeed.

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Apart from anti-infantry weapons and the MPL, to kill more than 1 PBI per shot will require big guns, especially if the PBIs are armored, and if you're doing that then I'm happy that you're not instead shooting them at my teammates' 'Mechs and tanks. To save my larger units, I'd happily have my PBIs eat a Gauss Rifle shot even if it kills 1 (armored) or 2 (unarmored) troopers. If you instead use lighter weapons, then the PBIs are typically going to suffer losses at the same rate as PA(L)s would suffer, especially if the PBIs are armored. The exception to the last point is the very low damage weapons, inflicting just 1 or 2 pts per hit, that don't do enough to kill a PA(L), but still kill a PBI.

However, this remains true for the PAL as well. The heavy weapon used against the PAL is still only killing a single man. Thus, a large amount of firepower is used to produce a rather small effect.

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So, for most weapons you're going to have to effectively waste firepower to kill PBIs faster than you could kill PA(L)s. Is that really enough to justify switching to PA(L)s considering that you'll also have higher transportation requirements (25t for 25 PA(L)s using TW rules or 6.25t using TO rules versus 2.5t for 25 PBIs)? Add in that the PBIs are superior at remaining hidden, are uneffected by stealth armor, have the option of field guns and can also use secondary weapons, which could potentially result in greater range, flexibility and/or damage. Although not something any sane player would include in a pen & paper game, if you add in the battle armor critical hit rules from ATOW Companion (said rules can be used in BT scenarios), then the pendulum swings a little more in favor of PBIs.

It seems significant firepower must be wasted in either case. And is it not established that PALs with armored gloves can likewise use infantry weapons, even support weapons in greater numbers than the two per squad allowed to conventional infantry?  In addition to potentially mounting light battlemech class weaponry? Without suffering any of the mobility penalties that conventional troops must when using paired support weapons?  Having a man dressed in armor that makes him at least as tough and potentially tougher than conventional troops while granting him superior mobility and firepower does indeed seem like a fair trade for the higher transportation mass and not having his stealth systems work against infantry. Not having access to field guns is regrettable, I suppose, though I'm not terribly fond of them, myself.

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While not a battlefield issue, PA(L)s also have higher procurement costs (75000 CBills for a minimum PA(L) versus as low as 1040 CBills for an armor kit) and higher training costs (it will require extra training to operate even a basic suit).

If there's one thing the houses have shown to have in abundance, it's money to throw at things.
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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Gladiator Combat Exoskeleton
« Reply #22 on: 17 January 2013, 08:33:29 »
However, this remains true for the PAL as well. The heavy weapon used against the PAL is still only killing a single man. Thus, a large amount of firepower is used to produce a rather small effect.

It seems significant firepower must be wasted in either case.

Exactly. And with PBIs you're forcing the enemy to waste that firepower for far less resources than if you were fielding PA(L)s.

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And is it not established that PALs with armored gloves can likewise use infantry weapons, even support weapons in greater numbers than the two per squad allowed to conventional infantry? ... Without suffering any of the mobility penalties that conventional troops must when using paired support weapons?

Yup, I might have mentioned that in an article or two.  :) However, because PBIs can use secondary weapons, they can exceed the capabilties of PA(L)s. For example, a platoon of 25 PBIs armed with 20 Mauser IICs and 5 Bearhunters will inflict more damage than 25 PA(L)s armed with 25 Mauser IICs. Alternatively, switch the PBIs to 15 Mauser IICs and 10 Mauser IICs w/Inferno grenades and you lose some damage, but gain a fire-based attack. Note that for both those examples, the PBIs don't lose any mobility, because their secondary weapons aren't support type weapons. If you're willing to lose mobility, you can go with 15 Mauser IICs and 10 ER Support Lasers, and you'll gain range and a little extra damage. Or swap the ER Support Lasers for Mk2 MP AA and you'll lose range and a little damage, but be able to shoot down aircraft.

Sadly, Clan support weapons aren't that good for PA(L)s: you could opt for the Bearhunter for massive damage, but zero range, for example. Bleh. The IS have better choice, primarily the incomparable MP Plasma Rifle. IS PBIs can't out-damage that, but they can outrange it with no mobilty loss (M41As and Radium Snipers, for example) or have greater flexibility (Mk 2 MP AA or M62s w/Inferno to replace the Radium Snipers, with the M62 option retaining mobility).

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In addition to potentially mounting light battlemech class weaponry?

Yes, that's an advantage for PA(L)s, but that weaponry doesn't stop you dying, it just means you likely hurt the other guy a little more before you go down. Even some of that 'Mech-scale weaponry isn't greatly superior to the infantry-scale weapons. For example, PBIs can be equipped with weapons that allow them to shoot 21 hexes, which PA(L)s cannot match with any of their viable 'Mech-scale weapons, and that's without considering PBIs with field guns.

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Having a man dressed in armor that makes him at least as tough and potentially tougher than conventional troops while granting him superior mobility and firepower does indeed seem like a fair trade for the higher transportation mass and not having his stealth systems work against infantry. Not having access to field guns is regrettable, I suppose, though I'm not terribly fond of them, myself.

PA(L)s can be built with superior mobility, that's true. For example, a VTOL or UMU-equipped suit, or one with a ground speed greater than 1 MP. Of course, that's definitely upped the training requirement, but it's the one clear advantage for PA(L)s. Mechanized PBIs can match those, but then that's introducing a mini-vehicle, so I don't think that counts (plus I don't really iike BT-style Mech Inf). The jump capability of PA(L)s can also exceed that of jump infantry with the use of jump boosters or wings. Of course, it's also true that to add these mobility options, you're eating into potential weapon payload, in some cases effectively eliminating it entirely.

You also have other issues, such as the PA(L)s requiring maintenance to keep running, and also needing regular recharging if you want to keep them in the field.

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If there's one thing the houses have shown to have in abundance, it's money to throw at things.

True, but at the same time we also get issues where they bizarrely struggle to pay for things that shouldn't be a problem at all given how much they piss away elsewhere. The cost and training issues are still significant for some players, and very likely play a part in why the various states and powers haven't adopted large numbers of cheap PA(L)s as a direct one-for-one replacement for infantry. Instead, they seem to prefer to field fewer numbers of more capable battle armor.

I'm not saying PA(L)s are completely useless, they simply aren't automatically a superior one-for-one replacement for conventional infantry. They have niches that they do better and they have niches that they do worse, and for the costs and resources required taking that extra step to full sized battle armor becomes hard to ignore.

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Gladiator Combat Exoskeleton
« Reply #23 on: 17 January 2013, 10:16:08 »
Exactly. And with PBIs you're forcing the enemy to waste that firepower for far less resources than if you were fielding PA(L)s.

The expense doesn't really seem that much of an issue to me.

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Yup, I might have mentioned that in an article or two.  :) However, because PBIs can use secondary weapons, they can exceed the capabilties of PA(L)s. For example, a platoon of 25 PBIs armed with 20 Mauser IICs and 5 Bearhunters will inflict more damage than 25 PA(L)s armed with 25 Mauser IICs. Alternatively, switch the PBIs to 15 Mauser IICs and 10 Mauser IICs w/Inferno grenades and you lose some damage, but gain a fire-based attack. Note that for both those examples, the PBIs don't lose any mobility, because their secondary weapons aren't support type weapons. If you're willing to lose mobility, you can go with 15 Mauser IICs and 10 ER Support Lasers, and you'll gain range and a little extra damage. Or swap the ER Support Lasers for Mk2 MP AA and you'll lose range and a little damage, but be able to shoot down aircraft.

It seems that the ability to add a heavy anti-mech weapon to the PAL counteracts that quite nicely. I suspect a quintet of bear hunters would compare poorly to a quintet of quintets of light machine guns or, to be completely cliche, AP Gauss guns (I think you can make that fit, I'll have to look into that).

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Sadly, Clan support weapons aren't that good for PA(L)s: you could opt for the Bearhunter for massive damage, but zero range, for example. Bleh. The IS have better choice, primarily the incomparable MP Plasma Rifle. IS PBIs can't out-damage that, but they can outrange it with no mobilty loss (M41As and Radium Snipers, for example) or have greater flexibility (Mk 2 MP AA or M62s w/Inferno to replace the Radium Snipers, with the M62 option retaining mobility).

I hear that we can expect an errata in the near future to bring ordnance firing weapons in line with the rules in the A Time of War companion, which I understand will make the missile packs more attractive. So that represents an option. On the Inner Sphere side I have trouble moving beyond the pure beauty of the Plasma Rifle. As I said above I'll let the mounted heavy weapons serve as the heavy support and treat the plasma rifles and other lesser options as the suit's assault rifle.

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Yes, that's an advantage for PA(L)s, but that weaponry doesn't stop you dying, it just means you likely hurt the other guy a little more before you go down.

Such is life. Same lot as the other ground pounders really. Though I will say that it is a weakness in my argument that so few combat oriented PALs actually make use of that capability.

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Even some of that 'Mech-scale weaponry isn't greatly superior to the infantry-scale weapons. For example, PBIs can be equipped with weapons that allow them to shoot 21 hexes, which PA(L)s cannot match with any of their viable 'Mech-scale weapons, and that's without considering PBIs with field guns.

In fairness the odds of actually running into a platoon able to hit that far out are pretty slim. The Clan ER Heavy Support Laser requires too many crew for a clan squad to have a pair of them, and it isn't likely to be found among the Inner Sphere. Outside of the Taurian Concordat, the Inner Sphere equivalent is in the same boat. It needs too many people to actually operate at the range that makes it so attractive. Outside of Stones Trackers, the Manei Domini, or non-standard organizations, you can't really expect more than a range of 15... which is still pretty damn long.

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PA(L)s can be built with superior mobility, that's true. For example, a VTOL or UMU-equipped suit, or one with a ground speed greater than 1 MP. Of course, that's definitely upped the training requirement, but it's the one clear advantage for PA(L)s. Mechanized PBIs can match those, but then that's introducing a mini-vehicle, so I don't think that counts (plus I don't really iike BT-style Mech Inf). The jump capability of PA(L)s can also exceed that of jump infantry with the use of jump boosters or wings. Of course, it's also true that to add these mobility options, you're eating into potential weapon payload, in some cases effectively eliminating it entirely.

It's a trade off, I'll agree. For an ideal basic line trooper I probably wouldn't exceed a jump rating of 3, or maybe the Gladiator S' (see, still on topic!) solution of mechanical jump boosters for augmented ground movement. Or maybe not. That's fifty kilos that could go into killing things.

On that note, I really, really wish I could like the gladiator as a basic infantry suit. But it's just not there. Even the Starcorps version... those twin AP mounts just irk me, yahknow? Redundant weapons you have to use one at a time just get in the way. And I'd really be more happy with a firedrake over that battle claw...

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You also have other issues, such as the PA(L)s requiring maintenance to keep running, and also needing regular recharging if you want to keep them in the field.

Heh, this is actually why I never had Man'yoshu adopt PALs for their regular infantry. They required too much support for properly operating out in the boonies. They really are for a wealthy well equipped and supported military, or for short set pieces.

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True, but at the same time we also get issues where they bizarrely struggle to pay for things that shouldn't be a problem at all given how much they piss away elsewhere. The cost and training issues are still significant for some players, and very likely play a part in why the various states and powers haven't adopted large numbers of cheap PA(L)s as a direct one-for-one replacement for infantry. Instead, they seem to prefer to field fewer numbers of more capable battle armor.

The house lords work in mysterious ways. Though the whole power armored infantry craze did start with the Elemental and wanting to copy that.

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I'm not saying PA(L)s are completely useless, they simply aren't automatically a superior one-for-one replacement for conventional infantry. They have niches that they do better and they have niches that they do worse, and for the costs and resources required taking that extra step to full sized battle armor becomes hard to ignore.

Everything has its place. The thing I like about PALs is that they are so light, I can see them doing a lot of the jobs a regular infantryman would be doing. Like they mention in the Smoothdavid writeup, sometimes crashing around in a metric ton of armor plate and killing things is a bit much.
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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Gladiator Combat Exoskeleton
« Reply #24 on: 17 January 2013, 17:54:26 »
The reason I suggested converting this to an infantry kit is that I can see the Blood Spirits and possibly the Society doing something like that, outfitting large numbers of failed Elementals with very light "Industrial" BA, so that hopefully they do more damage/survive longer.

I prefer using the Mark 1 AA, take it as a disposable weapon and you don't take any loss to normal range or damage but only get a single AA attack (which I don't see infantry making that many), plus you can outfit you're entire platoon with them and they may soon be getting triple damage

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Gladiator Combat Exoskeleton
« Reply #25 on: 17 January 2013, 19:52:42 »
While not a battlefield issue, PA(L)s also have higher procurement costs (75000 CBills for a minimum PA(L) versus as low as 1040 CBills for an armor kit) and higher training costs (it will require extra training to operate even a basic suit).

This was actually why I was thinking of making the most basic possible PA(L) suit with two armored gloves, no movement enhancements, and no integrated weapons.  They should be dirt cheap to build and require minimal training beyond your normal infantry courses to keep the initial cost down, and you have enough space for mission equipment to carry most of your logistical needs with you, especially if you have a fusion powered unit in the area to provide power.  If the thing is designed for easy maintenance with simple instructions carried with the spare parts the troops should be able to learn how to keep it running most of the time on their own fairly quickly which takes a big bite out of that maintenance increase.  This would probably require some serious use of quirks to make it work, but that is more of a strategic concern than a tactical consideration.

Now I will agree that it is possible for conventional infantry to outperform these most basic suits in some ways with things like jump packs, but the suits can be similarly upgraded and the costs increase for both units as you do this so that is less of a concern.  Maintenance costs also increase quickly as you upgrade both types of units because equipment like infantry jump packs, support weapons, and stealth gear needs maintenance just like the PA(L) suits.

Various spec ops units were using cyberware even without needing to scavange WoBtech, with the Death Commandos being notable proponents.

As for costs, the implants are hideously expensive once you start installing the combat-useful types, even ignoring those that could be provided by standard infantry equipment, such as sensors or comms, to try to limit costs. And by hideously expensive, I mean that it's possible to be more costly than full-sized battle armor.

In terms of effectiveness, a full-up cyber PBI would still be unable to do certain things that a PA(L) could do, such as mount the heavier 'Mech-scale weaponry, but they can otherwise be scarily effective. You could have an infantryman than halves damage from flame-based weapons, reduces burst fire damage by 1d6 & takes an extra point to kill, and that's before you add in the effect of any armor kit that's being worn. In addition, they could run faster, have built in Active Probe-like capability, C3 capability, and be able to carry more infantry-scale support weapons per squad, with less of an encumbering effect. Just look at the Tau Zombies in TRO3085 for an example of one possible configuration.

Even with all that the cyborgs come out behind the PA(L) suits because they do still take burst fire damage and no amount of damage reduction will keep standard weapons from killing them unlike the PA(L)s which can survive hits from the lightest weapons.  PA(L)s also laugh at Inferno SRMs because it takes more of them to kill a trooper than standard rounds, and the heat-to-damage from other weapons is distributed in 5-point clusters which are overkill on the suits.

Everything has its place. The thing I like about PALs is that they are so light, I can see them doing a lot of the jobs a regular infantryman would be doing. Like they mention in the Smoothdavid writeup, sometimes crashing around in a metric ton of armor plate and killing things is a bit much.

That was a big part of my thinking as well.  The PA(L) suits retain all the capabilities of conventional infantry while offering superior protection for only a small increase in bulk.  This also means you could do interesting things with your basic infantry suits like outfit workers with them to provide increased protection in hazardous areas like battlefields without compromising on their ability to do all the regular things they need to do.  You might even be able to stretch things and outfit some DropShip or vehicle crews with them to improve the crew's likelihood of surviving combat, especially in hostile environments.


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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Gladiator Combat Exoskeleton
« Reply #26 on: 17 January 2013, 21:54:18 »
This was actually why I was thinking of making the most basic possible PA(L) suit with two armored gloves, no movement enhancements, and no integrated weapons.  They should be dirt cheap to build and require minimal training beyond your normal infantry courses to keep the initial cost down, and you have enough space for mission equipment to carry most of your logistical needs with you, especially if you have a fusion powered unit in the area to provide power.

Sadly, 75000 CBills is the minimum you can get a 2 pt armor PA(L) down to, which is dirt cheap by the standards of other battle armor, but obscenely expensive by the standards of infantry.
You could drop the price to 55000 by dropping the armor, but that hurts the survivability and even then it's still massively more expensive than PBI equipment.

Going by ATOW/ATOW Comp, it makes no difference how simple a suit may be, they still require the same training and suffer the same penalties if used by an untrained person. I agree that a simpler suit, lacking mobility enhancements and complex systems, should be easier to learn in real life, but the rules don't go there. Notably, adding an APWM or Mech-scale weapons means that you also have to train the operator in Gunnery/Battlesuits; it's only weapons wielded in gloves that use the same Small Arms skill used by PBIs.

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Even with all that the cyborgs come out behind the PA(L) suits because they do still take burst fire damage and no amount of damage reduction will keep standard weapons from killing them unlike the PA(L)s which can survive hits from the lightest weapons.

Actually, cyborgs with the right implants can survive the same anti-armor weapons as PA(L)s if they also wear an armor kit. There's the myomer body implant that adds an extra hitpoint, so that means that weapons that do just 1 or 2 points of damage will inflict just a single point after the damage divisor of the armor kit is applied, thereby leaving the cyborg alive. The same weapons will only damage a PA(L) with 2 pts of armor. Obviously, a PA(L) could survive three 1 pt hits, but the cyborg could only handle two, so the PA(L) does have an advantage there. Both PA(L) and cyborg are dead if hit by a 3pt weapon.

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Gladiator Combat Exoskeleton
« Reply #27 on: 17 January 2013, 23:22:28 »
Sadly, 75000 CBills is the minimum you can get a 2 pt armor PA(L) down to, which is dirt cheap by the standards of other battle armor, but obscenely expensive by the standards of infantry.
You could drop the price to 55000 by dropping the armor, but that hurts the survivability and even then it's still massively more expensive than PBI equipment.

True, but it is still offering better protection than the best body armor money can buy with no movement penalties and gives you a bunch of cargo capacity at the same time so it is not like that money is going to waste.

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Going by ATOW/ATOW Comp, it makes no difference how simple a suit may be, they still require the same training and suffer the same penalties if used by an untrained person. I agree that a simpler suit, lacking mobility enhancements and complex systems, should be easier to learn in real life, but the rules don't go there. Notably, adding an APWM or Mech-scale weapons means that you also have to train the operator in Gunnery/Battlesuits; it's only weapons wielded in gloves that use the same Small Arms skill used by PBIs.

Yeah, that would be another level of abstraction causing problems unless you can get around it with an alternative skill (maybe industrial exoskeletons) or a quirk that reduces or removes that penalty.  As such I would probably house rule a quirk that it can be used with no penalties so long as it is just the minimal suit and cut the training cost down to match basic infantry when dealing with larger scale logistics.  I do not have the numbers in front of me, but given how little there is on the suit it seems to me like this should take a big bite out of the price tag.

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Actually, cyborgs with the right implants can survive the same anti-armor weapons as PA(L)s if they also wear an armor kit. There's the myomer body implant that adds an extra hitpoint, so that means that weapons that do just 1 or 2 points of damage will inflict just a single point after the damage divisor of the armor kit is applied, thereby leaving the cyborg alive. The same weapons will only damage a PA(L) with 2 pts of armor. Obviously, a PA(L) could survive three 1 pt hits, but the cyborg could only handle two, so the PA(L) does have an advantage there. Both PA(L) and cyborg are dead if hit by a 3pt weapon.

Yes, but Inferno SRMs will still do far more damage to the cyborgs and burst fire weapons like Machine Guns will kill at least one guy instead of leaving a damaged but functional suit.  Of course, the most effective would be a combination of the two because if memory serves there was an implant that let BA take another point of damage, but that is besides the point and does not really do all that much good because there are not that many 3-point weapons out there.


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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Gladiator Combat Exoskeleton
« Reply #28 on: 18 January 2013, 06:35:25 »
Actually, cyborgs with the right implants can survive the same anti-armor weapons as PA(L)s if they also wear an armor kit. There's the myomer body implant that adds an extra hitpoint, so that means that weapons that do just 1 or 2 points of damage will inflict just a single point after the damage divisor of the armor kit is applied, thereby leaving the cyborg alive. The same weapons will only damage a PA(L) with 2 pts of armor. Obviously, a PA(L) could survive three 1 pt hits, but the cyborg could only handle two, so the PA(L) does have an advantage there. Both PA(L) and cyborg are dead if hit by a 3pt weapon.
Actually my understanding if PBI's have that implant they get an extra +1 Damage divisor, PBI's don't have individual Hit Points remember?

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Gladiator Combat Exoskeleton
« Reply #29 on: 18 January 2013, 08:11:51 »
Might end up being a problem. I remembered it that way, as well.
If I were to design a catalogue of Implants to outfit a combat cyborg with, I'd go for things like servo-engines in the bones, myomer strands to support regular musculature, and blood sluices, to just shut down parts that took a serious hit.
Could houserule that as at the end of the turn, look at the clustertable (how many have died), roll, then substract one, and the result just stand up again. That'd be an annoying force to take down.^^
Alas, not happening.
However, a PA(L) with Myomer Armor would be able to withstand a small laser, a lucky scattering of lrms, an HMG without the burst rules, ARPGs, etc, and keep going. I'd say that is a certain advantage.
Regarding the Training costs, would en Exoskeleton, like the Gladiator is one, actually reduce the cost?
As we're more or less talking about just getting an easy to use Exoskeleton with free hands for a weapon, and a bit of armor, that might reduce the cost by using entirely different rule sets.^^
Because at the current cost, I'd tend to just use PA(L)s as fire support suits for Infantry, say, with an LRM and a Sniper Rifle.
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