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Author Topic: Battle Armor of the Week - Gorilla/Salrilla  (Read 2601 times)


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Battle Armor of the Week - Gorilla/Salrilla
« on: 23 March 2013, 14:11:14 »
Gorilla/Salrilla Exoskeleton - Technical Readout Vehicle Annex Revised page 183
(the image is probably a Salrilla with twin gloves or basic manipulators)

     The Gorilla probably isn't a familiar design to many players and for good reason given that it's a non-combat suit, although by contrast, within the Inner Sphere it's a widespread and popular industrial exoskeleton that would be quickly recognized. Introduced in Technical Readout Vehicle Annex, the Gorilla represents StarCorps' first known foray into power suit design, gaining them a reputation that directly leads to their first true Battle Armor, the mighty Kopis, and then the equally superb Angerona Scout Suit.

     As often happens in history, war helps to spur development in civilian markets, and the appearance of the Elemental and the subsequent introduction of battle armor by the Inner Sphere was no different. Exoskeletons already existed but with the new technology available thanks to the Clan Invasion, manufacturers across the Inner Sphere were quick to see new opportunities to improve their products, scrambling to bring them to market as soon as possible.

     Unlike its competitors, StarCorps decided that slow and steady wins the race, putting their prototypes through extensive testing, while also conducting a major marketing campaign. The company spent more on the latter than any other exoskeleton manufacturer, together with a price pitched below that of their competitors. Judging by the response once the Gorilla went on sale in 3056, StarCorps' planning was perfect, with the orange and yellow Gorilla spreading rapidly throughout the Inner Sphere and even into the Periphery, becoming particularly popular in the construction industry.

     Unsurprisingly, from the perspective of using the Gorilla in a BattleTech scenario, the suit wouldn't make for a good combatant. It doesn't even use the full 400 kilograms available to the exoskeleton/PA(L) weight class, leaving plenty of unused potential for expansion by its variants or players looking to customize the suit for their units.

     Able to move at the same pace as an unaugmented person, the Gorilla is far from mobile in battlefield terms, and while the single point of armor is probably even excessive for many civilian tasks, it's going to do practically nothing to keep the operator alive in a gunfight. That leads to the next problem for any player who takes a Gorilla into battle, in that it has no way of directly inflicting harm by itself, instead it's only able to act as a spotter or initiative sink. Despite that, the suit actually provides its operator a boost in boarding operations thanks to the small Marine Point Value bonus from its Cutting Torch.

     In addition to the Cutting Torch, the Gorilla also has a torso-mounted Searchlight, while its arms are tipped with a Basic Manipulator as a left hand and a Salvage Arm on the right. Thanks to the latest version of the rules, the former actually provides the Gorilla with Mechanized Battle Armor capability, although Anti-'Mech attacks still remain impossible without a matching Basic Manipulator or one of the heavier types. Of no use outside of roleplaying scenarios, the Salvage Arm is effectively only a flavor piece.

     While not a natural on the battlefield, the Gorilla did come to the attention of military buyers, using it for salvage operations. Recognizing the business opportunity being presented, StarCorps responded by developing an even more capable variant, officially termed the Salvage Gorilla, but more often known by its nickname, the Salrilla. Introduced in 3058, the Salrilla is faster, tougher and more flexible, and soon found itself as widespread among the militaries of the Inner Sphere as its earlier version did in the civilian markets.

     Capable of moving at three Movement Points per turn, the Salrilla can thus generate a Target Movement Modifier if a salvage team does unfortunately find itself in an enemy's crosshairs. While the armor is doubled in strength, that's not going to mean that much for survival, so avoiding being hit in the first place is still going to be the Salrilla's best chance to avoid becoming battlefield salvage itself.

     Both arms have been equipped with Modular Equipment Adaptors, thus allowing it to switch manipulators, although the standard configuration remains the same Salvage Arm and Basic Manipulator combination used by the Gorilla. The alternative canon configuration uses Mine Clearance manipulators, which does give the Salrilla a potentially useful battlefield utility available to few other designs. Unfortunately, mine clearing isn't quick compared to how fast an enemy can lay mines with Thunder-Augmented LRMs, so it can sometimes prove a fruitless task. With the Salrilla being such an easy target to kill, it's also something that is extremely risky to do in line of sight of the enemy.

     By swapping the standard manipulator choices for an Armored Glove and a Battle Claw, for example, the Salrilla would retain its ability to conduct Mechanized Battle Armor operations while adding the ability to inflict Anti-'Mech attacks and wield an infantry-scale weapon. That allows the Salrilla to be more usable in direct combat, but not much - like other suits in its weight class, it's still basically a deathtrap.

     While on the point of the Salrilla's vulnerability, it's unfortunately remained an exoskeleton and not been changed to a PA(L). Unlike most other design decisions, the choice made doesn't have any effect on the unit stats and requires nothing more than the designer choosing one way or the other. On the battlefield, that design choice can be of greater importance, with exoskeletons requiring both armor and Extended Life Support to be able to operate in hostile environments, such as space or poisonous atmospheres, while PA(L)s need neither. The Salrilla probably should be a PA(L) given its role; even when not coming under fire, a Salrilla would likely risk exposure to a variety of dangers both during and after a battle.

    Thanks to the Field Manual 3085 RATs and the Master Unit List, we also became aware that the Gorilla has a second standard variant, named the Falcata, that was introduced in 3075. Thanks to the latest version of the Technical Readout Vehicle Annex we have some fluff details of the Falcata that can allow us to reverse engineer the design to get a reasonable idea of its capabilties. We're told that it's built to full battle armor standards, which means that it's a PA(L) to you and me, and that it was a testbed for the armor, claws and laser mounting later used for the Kopis. Note that it's just the laser mounting and not the laser itself; at 500kg apiece, there's no way any PA(L) could ever be installed with a Medium Laser!

    With the humble Small Laser as the only viable option, which itself takes up half the mass of the Falcata, that doesn't leave a whole lot of mass free, especially since we have to allocate another 40kg to the pair of Heavy Battle Claws that it was also built to test. The fluff in the Vehicle Annex doesn't state how fast or how much armor the Falcata has, but it's a safe bet that with just 80kg remaining at this point, that it is sheathed in two points of Advanced armorplate, leaving nothing to enhance the mobility above the basic single ground Movement Point. The other option would be one point of armor and two for movement, leaving an excess of 15kg, which isn't as aesthetically pleasing from a design standpoint, and leaves the design far more vulnerable despite the greater mobility.

    The location of the laser isn't directly stated, although given that the Falcata is testing the laser mount for the later Kopis, it's a safe bet that the weapon is on the torso rather than an arm. That means that the suit would be incapable of inflicting damage in a Swarm attack, although Leg Attacks would still be viable. The claws will also make the Falcata capable of Mechanized Battle Armor operations, although as a 'Mech unit commander, I'd really rather carry some real battle armor into combat.

    The Vehicle Annex does describe the Falcata as a fearsome anti-battle armor unit, to which I can only raise my eyebrow skeptically. Assuming the two armor point model noted above, and that the Falcata is facing the gold standard IS Standard, then the lighter suit will be facing an opponent that can generate a +2 Target Movement Modifier to its +0. In addition, depending upon the IS Standard's configuration, it potentially outranges the Falcata and can absorb four hits to the Falcata's one or two. Of course, the Falcata is cheaper in BV terms, but it's technically possible for an IS Standard armed with a Light Recoilless Rifle to kill Falcatas all day without taking any damage in return, so it can be a false economy.

    Personally, if I was a commander of a Falcata unit, I'd be looking to rip out that Small Laser and replace it with a Flamer. The reduced ability against battle armor and other hard targets isn't going to matter that much, but at least it could then slaughter conventional infantry that get too close and also be a cheap incendiary unit. With the saved mass going with the lighter weapon, you could also install the motive system from a Salrilla while retaining the thicker armor, letting you have your cake and eat it too. The Flamer could even be used to cook the cake, so it's win all around!

    Except as a flavor piece, I can't really recommend the Gorilla or its variants as a unit to pick, even if you're short on available BV points. No matter how well designed, no PA(L) or exoskeleton can overcome their inherent fragility, and thus they die so easily against even the weakest opponents. Without some form of advantage to balance that flaw, an advantage the Gorilla lacks, you're better off looking elsewhere.

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Gorilla/Salrilla
« Reply #1 on: 23 March 2013, 17:20:45 »
A nice article for a fluffy suit.
I always like that background info, though I obviously can't relate to it gamewise.
Not that I could too much, given my -ahem- prodigious experience.
I always tend to look up your "Up next" list, there's bound to be some I never heard of. ;)
Savannah Masters are the Pringles of Battletech.
Ooo! OOOOOOO! That was a bad one!...and I liked it.


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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Gorilla/Salrilla
« Reply #2 on: 23 March 2013, 18:23:16 »
with the orange and yellow Gorilla

What about purple and green?  O:-)


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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Gorilla/Salrilla
« Reply #3 on: 05 October 2014, 18:23:22 »
With Record Sheets Vehicle Annex - IndustrialMechs and Exoskeletons now published, we finally get the Falcata's full stats.

The laser and its mounting is indeed confirmed as being a body-mounted Small Laser. With a single Movement Point and two points of armor, we can deduce that the latter is indeed Advanced plating, although as noted in the original article, we sort of already knew which armor type was going to be used. Similarly, the manipulators were confirmed as being twin Heavy Battle Claws.

There's nothing else that really needs to be said. The Falcata is still a horrible suit from a battlefield perspective, but as a flavor piece it's a really good and logical stepping stone to the Kopis, hallowed be its name. That it was actually pressed into service instead of remaining just an internal testbed speaks volumes about the desperation of the Jihad and StarCorps' ability to make CBills.