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Author Topic: Battle Armor of the Week - 3145 Special - Xiphos Assault Battle Armor  (Read 2458 times)

sillybrit

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Xiphos Assault Battle Armor - Technical Readout 3145 Free Worlds League page 9


     The Xiphos Assault Battle Armor, as the name suggests, is the new assault partner to the feared Kopis, and together they form a mighty duo for Free Worlds League players. The Xiphos is the heaviest of the three battlesuits in the League's 3145-series Technical Readout, and while it doesn't have the same level of firepower as the older suit, it makes up for that in other ways.

     When originally tasked with designing a new League assault suit, jymset and I discussed a variety of ideas for a complimentary design that could operate alongside the Kopis rather than supplant it. With the Kopis being a superb anti-armor unit, able to handle both ’Mechs and tanks with aplomb, I wanted a suit that would be able to kill the other battlefield foes - infantry and battle armor - without being vulnerable to the heavier steel. Given that the Kopis is also a relatively fragile design by assault standards, then some form of heavy armor was all but demanded.

     The 3145 era introduced lots of new technology, so my favorite Mimetic plating was passed over for Reactive armor, which makes the suit much tougher to kill with explosives. With no less than fifteen points of armor, or effectively double against missiles and area effect weapons such as artillery and mortars, the Xiphos is able to soak up a lot of damage. Without any form of stealth, the suit isn't as good as avoiding being hit in the first place, unlike the typical AFFS suit, for example, but as mentioned the Reactive armor is great for dealing with area attacks. Artillery and similar weaponry have two big advantages against battle armor, the first being that they damage every suit in the squad equally, instead of each hit being allocated to an individual suit. The second advantage is that by attacking the hex rather than the squad of battle armor, they bypass any stealth or movement modifiers, as well as the inherent targeting penalty all battle armor enjoy. Being better qualified to handle such attacks is very useful and is a point made in the Xiphos' write up in Technical Readout 3145 Free Worlds League.

     With the protection out of the way, a balance had to be decided between mobility and firepower. In part this decision was made because of the direction being taken with the AFFS' new Fusilier. We didn't want to have two suits that were too similar and with the Fusilier opting for mobility, the Xiphos had to go more for firepower. Despite that, the Xiphos was made quicker than the Kopis, being able to move at twice the speed. Unable to provide any defensive bonuses, it's still useful, enabling the Xiphos to better shift around the battlefield under its own steam. Of course, if operating in terrain with plenty of rivers, extreme height changes or similar difficult features, then the lack of jump jets will leave the Xiphos as hampered as the slower Kopis.

     Before we continue on to the armament, I'll digress by addressing the manipulators, or in this case the single Basic Manipulator. While in some ways it would have been nice to mount dual Heavy Claws, matching the Kopis and the new Ogre, the choice of a single manipulator that cost no mass was deliberate. Not only was it a distinction, making clear that this wasn't a Kopis, but more importantly it saved much needed mass for the guns.

     Perhaps the most significant point regarding the Xiphos' weaponry is that it's modular, which is again a distinct change from the Kopis. The modularity also allowed for the greatest flexibility in countering whichever foes the suit might be required to face. The modularity was also used, albeit in just one configuration, to underscore that the latest rules allow certain non-weapons to be fitted to Modular Weapon Mounts, greatly increasing the versatility of that item.

     Addressing the heaviest weapon first, the payload of the Xiphos was dictated by the need to mount a Heavy Flamer, which had not yet been used on an Inner Sphere design. This weapon is an absolute monster against conventional infantry, with a squad of the C configuration able to achieve an average of 42 kills per shot, more than enough to fry a platoon of PBIs. The range isn't that good however, with many infantry platoons able to shoot more than four hexes, but in a close quarters urban battle this configuration can dominate its prey. The Heavy Flamer isn't to be sneered at when used against armored targets, able to achieve an average of twelve damage per Turn, which is not bad for battle armor, although perhaps a little light for an assault suit. There's also the heat option, of course, and in the right circumstances it could be more important than simple damage, perhaps forcing an already hot ’Mech to shut down.

     Somewhat gruesomely, the secondary "weapon" fitted on the left-arm Modular Weapon Mount in the C configuration is a heat sensor. In part simply using up the remaining mass, it also confirms that the Xiphos-C is intended for urban combat, using its sensor to seek out hidden foes to then heat them up a little more. Well, a lot more really. Unfortunately, the sensor only provides an in-game benefit when using the double blind rules that assigns spotting distances to various equipment; otherwise it's just extra fluff.

     The other two configurations are more conventional, mounting a pair of weapons. The Xiphos-A actually matches a layout I had intended at one point for the Fusilier, with a Magshot paired with a Light Recoilless Rifle. The average damage again works out to twelve points per Turn, but with a more respectable range than the C configuration's flamer, particularly the superb Magshot. The ability to deliver six hits per typical salvo also makes this loadout useful against tanks and damaged ’Mechs, hoping for a lucky crit or two instead of relying upon raw damage. The Light Recoilless Rifle gives a slight boost against conventional infantry, making  the Xiphos-A a good choice if you're unsure what you'll meet or when you know the enemy will have a mix of armored and unarmored infantry.

     The B configuration ends up quite similar to the Fusilier Upgrade, which did cause me some concern when the latter was originally suggested, but the armor type and mobility are different enough and a little parallel evolution is acceptable. The primary firepower comes in the form of the fearsome Plasma Rifle, making the Xiphos-B a great battle armor killer. The secondary weapon was another that gave us some thought, primarily due to the lack of available mass. A Firedrake would have been one choice and I really wished we had 5kg extra to have instead allowed a Light Machine Gun, but instead a one-shot single SRM tube was picked. At first glance this might seem the least optimal option, and you wouldn't be completely wrong thinking that, but for a configuration intended to hunt battle armor, the ability to load up an Inferno explains why the missile launcher got the nod. Although mainly relying upon the Plasma Rifle to kill enemy battlesuits, the ability to auto-kill a single suit with that one missile attack can make for a great opening salvo.

     Against other foes, the Xiphos-B is the weakest. Like the C configuration it can use its main weapon to heat certain opponents instead of inflicting damage, but when used for the latter, the Plasma Rifle only allows a squad to hit a target for an average of six points per Turn. Even if the SRM launcher is loaded with standard missiles, all this does is double the damage for a single Turn and then it's back to the mere six per salvo, or eight at best if you get a good cluster roll. Many battle armor designs that are much lighter than the Xiphos can equal or better that, so this configuration is very much a specialist that you field when you know you're going to be facing a lot of battle armor.

     The last feature of the Xiphos requires the use of optional rules. The Improved Communications quirk from Strategic Operations allows the Xiphos to still communicate when within an enemy ECM field (apart from Angel ECM), but this is only of any use when using the optional communication rules from Tactical Operations.

     I must admit that the Xiphos isn't on my list of favorite assault suits now that I've had time to think about it and run a few scenarios. It is a useful tool to operate alongside the mighty Kopis, but it's perhaps that which puts a dampener on my feelings towards the Xiphos, even if it is my own design. The Xiphos would have had to be an outstanding suit after following in the footsteps of the Kopis, and it doesn't quite achieve that in my mind. It is still a good suit that can be a brutal performer in the right circumstances, and it can certainly soak up punishment, but the lack of solid anti-armor firepower leaves it as a mere sidekick in my opinion.

     Overall, the Xiphos provided the Marik-Stewart Commonwealth with the anvil its battle armor corps needed, while still able to provide a decent contribution to the outbound firepower. Although the Commonwealth fell, the design impressed the Wolves enough that some suits have even been claimed as isorla, equipping at least one Trinary in the Wolf Empire's armed forces. The prospect of Xiphos vs Xiphos fights aside, the more widespread a design the better from my point of view as it hopefully makes them more likely to be used in games!

     As a 3145 suit, we know the Xiphos will be around for a long time, and for once the southwestern front of the Inner Sphere isn't a dark, forgotten corner. With plenty of opportunity for in-universe conflict and thus tabletop battles, perhaps the Xiphos will have a chance to make its own mark and establish that the foes of the purple have another battlesuit to fear.

« Last Edit: 25 June 2014, 23:50:45 by sillybrit »

Weirdo

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I wasn't all that impressed with the Xiphos when I first saw it, but it has since grown on me immensely. As you say, it definitely makes a good anvil to work alongside the heavier guns of the Kopis, though I may also pair them with Phalanx squads sometime to create decent-speed hunter-killer urban platoons. While the A looks like an excellent all-around fighter, the B is definitely a battlesuit hunter. Between that Inferno salvo(I keep forgetting about that trick) and the plasma, you'll be cutting through enemy suits at record speed - an especially critical need right now with the presence of the Wolf Empire on the coreward border, with all the Elementals, Black Wolves, and Wargs that will entail. Much like the Inferno trick, I keep forgetting about using Flamers for actual heat, and so thought little of the Xiphos C until reading this article. Now I want to use them as 'mech hunters, deploying a couple squads in ambush to try and shut down a 'mech, then use those same flamers the next turn to either keep the target hot so others can finish it off, or switch to damage shots and try to called-shot-amputate a convenient limb. }:)
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For an armor meantto take on PBI and other battle armors, it really doesn't mount that many guns useful against them.
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For an armor meantto take on PBI and other battle armors, it really doesn't mount that many guns useful against them.

That's why I didn't describe it as an anti PBI BA in the fluff. I went for an anti artillery fluff. ;)
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sillybrit

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For an armor meantto take on PBI and other battle armors, it really doesn't mount that many guns useful against them.

The plasma rifle gets good bonus damage against battle armor. The heavy flamer slaughters conventional infantry. The LRR does modest bonus damage vs conventional infantry and the Magshot outranges a lot of battle armor weapons, thus providing a slight edge or even total dominance, depending upon whether the enemy battle armor can close.

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Yeah, the plasma model will do pretty heavy damage to other battlesuits, so say nothing of an inferno salvo. Fortunately it's the Wolves and no the Falcons that moved into the area, so Xiphos users still aren't very likely to face large numbers of fireproof armor. The A would be my anti-PBI suit of choice with that recoilless rifle, though obviously the C will do the job well if you're willing to give up range.
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Further, keep in mind that the Xiphos has 370kg and two mount points. This makes it a very versatile heavy trooper, compared to the one-trick Kopis.
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An excellent suit to take some fire.
It appears those variants are always A,B, C without a prime?
Also, how come there's no King David variant, or one of it's locally produced contemporaries?
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sillybrit

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Well, the King David originates in the FWL, so there'd be no need for a locally produced contemporary. As for why there isn't a canon King David configuration, we only had so many configuration slots available, primarily due to the need to produce a record sheet for each one. Between the Plasma Rifle and the King David, the former was the prefered choice, as the Phalanx already provided a long-standing carrier of the King David in League service.

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The remark about the Xiphos being mostly a sidekick strikes me as entirely appropriate.  In the days of hoplite combat, the primary weapon was the spear, called a doru.  The xiphos (short sword) was essentially a sidearm used when things got to extremely close quarters or when a hoplite's spear had been broken.
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