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Author Topic: Battle Armor of the Week - 3145 Special - Zou  (Read 2771 times)

sillybrit

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Battle Armor of the Week - 3145 Special - Zou
« on: 24 July 2013, 00:23:17 »
Zou Heavy Battle Armor - Technical Readout 3145 Draconis Combine page 9


     The Zou, or elephant, is one of the best battle armor designs of the 3145 series of Technical Readouts, but one that really doesn't seem to have made much impact among the fanbase.

     jymset: The Zou is one of the only designs in the whole TRO where I really thought I crossed the munch line and *nobody* remarked anything on those lines. The basic design was actually developed from the original concept for the Oni.

      Intended as the next generation assault suit, it uses advanced technology to actually come in lighter than the mighty Kanazuchi it supplements. Its performance makes it a heavy trooper that is a favorite battle armor type of mine, able to provide withering firepower and absorb a beating, while still remaining more mobile than the larger assault suits.

      The key element that allows the Zou to be lighter than the Kanazuchi is the Reflective armor. Although the base protection is four points less than the Kanazuchi's, the only two weapons that can one-shot kill the newer suit but not the older are the Gauss Rifle and the Thunderbolt-15. Thanks to the energy-defeating properties of the Reflective armor, the Zou can withstand Heavy PPCs and Clantech ER PPCs, and the base armor is still enough that a Large Re-engineered Laser doesn't do enough to kill a Zou in a single hit. Obviously multiple hits from lighter non-energy weapons will kill a Zou quicker than a Kanazuchi, but the opposite is true with certain energy weapons. For example, four Medium Laser hits will kill a Kanazuchi, but six are required to destroy a Zou.

    So defensively, the Zou is both better and worse than the suit it's intended to work alongside, but what about other features? With twice the ground speed, it's obviously going to be able to get where it's going much quicker, except in the roughest of terrain. Perhaps more importantly, as a heavy battlesuit, the Zou is able to conduct Mechanized Battle Armor operations, freeing it from the need of the APCs that the Kanazuchi requires. As the Inner Sphere state that first produced OmniMechs, the Combine is well placed to be able to provide plentiful numbers of Omnis as battlefield taxis for Zous and their lighter brethren.

     The weaponry is overall lighter, although the main armament remains unchanged. The Medium Laser is one of the best Inner Sphere battle armor weapons; one that I wish the Clans had access to with their own version. There was discussion about this among The Powers That Be, but alas the laser remains a Spheroid-only weapon. In the 3145 era with mixed tech abound, that's perhaps not as much of an issue as before.

     The Zou does lack any secondary weaponry, although the one-shot nature of the Kanazuchi's main backup firepower means that they'll nearly be on par after a turn or two. The older machine's AP weapons provide a more permanent advantage, but if you use the default rules, this'll only be at three hexes or less. Sadly for the Kanazuchi, in a head-to-head conflict the Zou's glazed armor is likely to win the fight long before that.

     As I commented to jymset, I waver back and forth about the eleventh point of armor, looking upon it as potential 55kg of lost firepower. To me, that's a Firedrake or Light TAG, but at the same time I do have to agree with jymset's viewpoint that the last point of armor is both additional useful protection and a deliberate statement. It might only be one point, but it makes the Zou tougher than any medium suit can be. I could also wish for a glove on the right arm, which would potentially give the Zou superior sustained firepower than the Kanazuchi, but then it really would be edging closer to the munch line that jymset was worried about.

     The variant of the Zou fits neatly with the depiction of the suit as a command and control unit. By downgrading the main armament to the still powerful Medium Recoilless Rifle, there is enough room to fit a C3 system. This makes the Zou C3 one of the few C3 designs that can not only provide spotting capability for its network, but also make a decent contribution to outgoing damage, and do so for longer than less well protected battle armor.

     Although the same can be said for the DCMS' various medium and light battlesuits, the Zou is one that you really should Combine ;-) with Omni support. Using the larger units to get the Zous directly into the fight, or to drop them off at key positions, allows you to get their impressive firepower into action quicker than under their own power. Lacking the ability to generate a Target Movement Modifier, you'd want to make sure you can get them into good hard or soft cover, but the Zou does have the toughness to take a smack or two, so you can play a little looser than you might need to do with more fragile designs.

    The Zou is able to bridge the gap between the Kanazuchi and the more mobile smaller battle armor in the Kuritan lineup. When operating alongside the Kanazuchi, it can flank and provide the breakthrough element, with the option of becoming the frontline if the enemy is mostly armed with energy weapons. When partnered with the likes of the Kishi and Oni, the Zou is the heavy firebase that the lighter suits can rely upon for fire support. The jump-capable Kage, Raiden and Void are perhaps more difficult to work with in certain terrain, but even then this can be mitigated by use of the right Omni transports.

     There's not really much that could be done to improve the Zou other than the addition of an armored glove as noted above. Arguably Reactive armor is more useful than Reflective due to the common use of Area Effect weapons to kill entire squads of battlesuits, but by switching to that armor you'd have to give up a point of protection. You'd also be more vulnerable to direct fire by energy weapons, and thus in some circumstances you'd be worse off. In a major change in role, swapping the variant's C3 system for a Mechanical Jump Booster would increase mobility, adding a token jump capability and allowing it to move fast enough for a Target Movement Modifier. The result would be a decent suit, but whether or not it'd be a Zou would be questionable.

     Like the other Kuritan battle armor introduced in 3145, the Zou only serves in the DCMS. In the case of the Zou this is something I'd definitely not want to change if I was a Combine fan. While it doesn't seem to have garnered much visible comment so far, with time the Zou is likely to become a firm favorite as well as a target of much envy from those who have to face it from the wrong side of the map.



SCC

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - 3145 Special - Zou
« Reply #1 on: 24 July 2013, 01:38:27 »
    So defensively, the Zou is both better and worse than the suit it's intended to work alongside, but what about other features? With twice the ground speed, it's obviously going to be able to get where it's going much quicker, except in the roughest of terrain. Perhaps more importantly, as a heavy battlesuit, the Zou is able to conduct Mechanized Battle Armor operations, freeing it from the need of the APCs that the Kanazuchi requires. As the Inner Sphere state that first produced OmniMechs, the Combine is well placed to be able to provide plentiful numbers of Omnis as battlefield taxis for Zous and their lighter brethren.

This is one thing that has bothered me: Why has nobody started putting these handhold's on normal 'Mechs? This makes a lot of sense considering how rare Omni's are in the IS (It's even worse in the Periphery, only the MoC seems to have access to Omni-tech, but every body has access to BA)

Kojak

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - 3145 Special - Zou
« Reply #2 on: 24 July 2013, 02:00:53 »
This is one thing that has bothered me: Why has nobody started putting these handhold's on normal 'Mechs? This makes a lot of sense considering how rare Omni's are in the IS (It's even worse in the Periphery, only the MoC seems to have access to Omni-tech, but every body has access to BA)

The handholds aren't what allows battlesuits to ride Omnis, it's the fact that their gyros allow them to adapt on the fly to the change in weight from the suits mounting/dismounting. A regular 'Mech would topple immediately. Of course, I don't know where that leaves mag-clamps, IU-explanation-wise.

BTW, excellent article on what was probably my favorite new unit out of the DC 3145 TRO. This thing looks like the kind of assault-'Mech-devouring monster that the 'Zuchi still is.
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Arkansas Warrior

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - 3145 Special - Zou
« Reply #3 on: 24 July 2013, 02:07:34 »
Well, with the name Elephant I was initially expecting a quad, and so was a little disappointed on that point (perhaps irrationally).  I'm also not a big C3 user, so the second version underwhelmed me, for a heavy suit.  But on a second look, it is a fearsome monster in its own right.  I'd like to see a version that swaps the C3 for other electronics though.  But I'll say no more for fear of making such a wish impossible.
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Alexander Knight

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - 3145 Special - Zou
« Reply #4 on: 24 July 2013, 02:08:19 »
Mag-clamp units do the necessary weight-shifting themselves, sparing the standard 'mech's DI from going nuts.  It's not as good as an Omni, hence the -1 MP.

Diplominator

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - 3145 Special - Zou
« Reply #5 on: 24 July 2013, 08:59:28 »
Arguably Reactive armor is more useful than Reflective due to the common use of Area Effect weapons to kill entire squads of battlesuits

I disagree. While reactive armor will be useful against some AE weapons (mortars, mine-clearance LRMs, BA artillery), the larger (and more common) blasts from things like Arrow IV and Long Tom Cannons will still do unspeakable things to battle armor with reactive armor. Doing full damage to every member of a squad means AE weapons effectively do quadruple damage to battle armor (more against Clans and Comstar) and reducing that to double damage means that AE is "only" extremely effective instead of absurdly so. It's why I'm so unimpressed with the Xiphos from 3145:FWL. It's a lot of mass to devote to something with so little return.

Reflective armor, on the other hand, is very useful on battle armor. A lot of forces rely on things like medium pulse lasers to deal with BA and the Zou requires, what, four MPL hits per trooper? That's a lot of firepower for not a lot of damage.  They can use ballistics and SRMs, of course, but then they're using limited ammo supplies on infantry.

Just my opinion, but I'd rather render a common BA counter almost useless than render a less common BA counter slightly less overwhelming.

Aldous

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - 3145 Special - Zou
« Reply #6 on: 24 July 2013, 09:43:53 »
Reflective Armor on BA needs more weaknesses. Its OP otherwise.

Pa Weasley

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - 3145 Special - Zou
« Reply #7 on: 24 July 2013, 10:03:18 »
Other than it's weight and that it gobbles up crit slots like Pac-Man on a pellet binge? I find BA reflective to be one of the most interesting, yet ultimately limiting, pieces of equipment currently available.

Ghost_msl

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - 3145 Special - Zou
« Reply #8 on: 24 July 2013, 11:44:33 »
Imagine the effect of funtional BA scale Ferro-Lamellor armor - no more sand  blasting BA to death with LB-X auto cannons.

sillybrit

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - 3145 Special - Zou
« Reply #9 on: 24 July 2013, 12:34:05 »
I disagree. While reactive armor will be useful against some AE weapons (mortars, mine-clearance LRMs, BA artillery), the larger (and more common) blasts from things like Arrow IV and Long Tom Cannons will still do unspeakable things to battle armor with reactive armor. Doing full damage to every member of a squad means AE weapons effectively do quadruple damage to battle armor (more against Clans and Comstar) and reducing that to double damage means that AE is "only" extremely effective instead of absurdly so. It's why I'm so unimpressed with the Xiphos from 3145:FWL. It's a lot of mass to devote to something with so little return.

I'd rather reduce that 25 or 20 point AE hit to just 12 or 10 points respectively, because depending upon the size and armor of the battle armor that could mean a live squad for an additional turn of return fire, or even being able to escape. Once you add in the accuracy advantages of AE weapons, getting to bypass terrain, movement, stealth and the natural defensive bonuses of battle armor and that gives me an even bigger reason to fear AE over mere direct fire weapons.

Reflective Armor on BA needs more weaknesses. Its OP otherwise.

Yes, no. Facing battle armor with reflective? Hit them with AE weapons, Gauss Rifles, heavy autocannon and the ever-powerful Infernos. Facing fire resistant suits? Then everything but the Infernos. For every specialist armor, there's a counter.

Given the weight and slot advantages, then for IS suits it's fire resistant armor that could be argued as OP, although in part that depends upon how commonly your playing group uses Infernos. The prospect of killing an 18pt assault suit with just what are effectively three SRMs is very powerful.

UnLimiTeD

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - 3145 Special - Zou
« Reply #10 on: 14 August 2013, 08:07:20 »
Holy hell how could I miss this entire article?
This suit is awesome.
And it looks awesome, too.
Doesn't quite get up to a certain Lyran/CWIE suit, but that's clantech.
It's certainly got the looks.
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Ooo! OOOOOOO! That was a bad one!...and I liked it.

 

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