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Author Topic: Battle Armor of the Week - Wraith Battle Armor  (Read 2240 times)

sillybrit

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Battle Armor of the Week - Wraith Battle Armor
« on: 02 February 2014, 18:46:13 »
Wraith Battle Armor - Technical Readout 3145 The Clans page 9


     The Wraith is a battle armor design produced by the Ghost Bear Dominion that can trace a direct line of descent back to the Rogue Bear. The write up in Technical Readout 3145 The Clans even goes so far as to refer to the Rogue Bear as the prototype for the Wraith, and while that might seem an excessive claim to some given their completely different performance profiles, the seeds of the Wraith can be seen in the Rogue Bear and its later variants.

     jymset: I'd call it an extremely clear lineage. Look at the Wraith, it's a Hybrid Rogue Bear that drops the Camo System in order to retain the base Rogue Bear's manipulators and fits it on a medium chassis for extra mobility and swarmy goodness.

     Personally, I think elements of the Wraith can be traced back further to another Ghost Bear battlesuit, in the form of the assault-class Golem. That suit set the theme for later Ghost Bear suits with its twin arm-mounted ballistic armament. In common with the Rogue Bear, the basic Wraith sticks to that theme by mounting a Machine Gun on each arm, although like the Rogue Bear (Hybrid) it lacks the older suits' torso-mounted missile launchers. It's possible to point to the Rogue Bear-HR as breaking the paired gun theme, but that design was after all a short production run prototype that existed only as long as it took to finalize the Rogue Bear (Hybrid). There's also perhaps a Ghost Bear theme of fitting what are often considered not the most ideal guns: both Bearhunters and Machine Guns are short ranged compared to other options. I know many would look at the 200kg allocated to the Wraith's twin guns and be thinking about a single AP Gauss Rifle instead and damnation to the cosmetic theme!

     jymset: Range is indeed an issue that will come up, but the MG is way maligned as a BA weapon. When not saddled with "empty" weight due to being fit in a MWM, it's a monstrously effective ROI. Truth be told, Brent Evans' (DA background down below) main regret for the final Wraith was its lack of BFGs. I assured him that taking the whole package into account, the dual MGs were simply the best possible bang for the buck. (The Buraq follows the same rationale.) ...and that it would be murder for infantry.

     The Wraith also returns to the original Rogue Bear's installation of matching Vibro Claws. The interceding battlesuit designs in the Rogue Bear family tree had kept to the concept of pairs of identical manipulators, in contrast to the single claw seen in the Elemental, but mass limits had forced lighter types to be used instead of the hefty Vibro Claws that return in the Wraith. Notably, the Wraith is the first in the family to get any significant use out of its claws, as the earlier battlesuits were all heavies and thus unable to conduct Anti-Mech attacks.

     Combined with the Burst Fire capability of the Machine Guns, the twin Vibro Claws give the Wraith a solid bonus in marine boarding actions. Altogether the suit is worth six Marine Boarding Points, making it one of the better suits available. The original Rogue Bear is technically superior thanks to its higher base value due to its larger size, but the Wraith's greater jump capability makes it a better choice for zero-G operations.

     The Wraith's armor is the same ten points of Basic Stealth debuted on the Rogue Bear-HR prototypes and then continued on the Rogue Bear (Hybrid) production models. Matching the Elemental, this allows the Wraith to eat an old style PPC hit and keep fighting, while its modest stealth capability can sometimes prevent hits in the first place, particularly long range shots. Unlike the Rogue Bear-HR and Hybrid, the Wraith lacks a Camo System, so conventional infantry are completely immune to the effects of its stealth armor, which is an unfortunate flaw for a suit intended for an anti-personnel role.

     Rounding out the main features, the Wraith also possesses the same mobility introduced by the Rogue Bear-HR. Ground speed is nothing special, with the default one Movement Point, while jump jets provide the main means of movement, allowing the Wraith to leap 90 meters. Unlike the original Rogue Bear, and like the later Rogue Bear variants, that means that the Wraith can generate a +1 Target Movement Modifer due to range, with an extra +1 due to jumping and another against larger foes. Altogether, that means that at long range a Wraith enjoys a +5 modifier to incoming ’Mech and vehicle fire with the stealth also taken into account.

     At this point, some of you might be thinking that the Wraith is very similar to the preceding Rogue Bear (Hybrid), so what is the point? The Wraith loses the Camo System, making it more vulnerable against conventional infantry and when forced to stand still, plus loses a small amount of ranged firepower in the form of the Hybrid's anti-personnel weapon attack. What the Wraith gains is a diet that allows it to conduct Anti-Mech attacks, with Vibro-Claws making those attacks a little better and even allowing melee attacks vs other infantry. Yes, there's also the smaller transport footprint to bear in mind, but I'm not 100% convinced that the Wraith is an upgrade over the Hybrid if you want to judge it purely by its stats. The Anti-Mech capability is the key benefit, but there are going to be plenty of times where you're going to wish you had that extra stealth instead, such as when a quicker foe stands off and shoots from beyond melee range.

     jymset: To be fair, it's a suit that does what it does well. It combines strengths of Elemental and Rogue Bear. Its main glaring weakness is its lack of long range weaponry, but as a suit that wants to get up close and as detailed above, it's not as vulnerable as it could be. Remember what BA originally was meant to do, get up close, get lucky with the dice, and swarm the poor bastard on the receiving end to death.

     So the Dominion perhaps had a questionable need for the Wraith in terms of capability; your mileage will vary on that question. In terms of deployment, it's a continuation of the Ghost Bear plan to issue Clantech designs to the Dominion's Spheroid troops that began back with the original Rogue Bear. Starting with a single Cluster, then more widespread with the Hybrid, the Dominion went out of their way to make the Wraith compatible with both Spheroids and hulking Elementals, to the point that the suit suffers from a complicated supply chain, resulting in the Non-Standard Parts quirk.

     If the need for the Standard variant of the Wraith can be viewed as questionable, then the Anti-Infantry variant makes me go "Hmmm... yeeeeaaahhh." A mixed tech design, the switch from Machine Guns to Firedrakes starts off well enough, as it increases anti-PBI firepower, albeit at the cost of reduced effectiveness against armored targets. Likewise, the Improved Sensors would give the ability to sniff out enemy infantry and would allow the suit to adopt a swing role as a scout. It's the armor that makes me pause. As I already pointed out, the Standard versions' Basic Stealth has no effect on conventional infantry, but switching to Reactive seems a pointless sideways move for the design's given role. Even if the armor is ruled as more effective against SRM-armed infantry, what about the hordes of PBIs who aren't armed with SRMs? It's perhaps a long bet against the deployment of area effect weapons, but it also feels to me like new toy syndrome.

     jymset: Is a PBI-heavy environment likely to be a general combined arms battlezone? In which case the AE weapons perhaps aren't too unlikely.

     But no, sillybrit's impression is close to the target. The Wraith is one of the MWAoD battle armor and it was visualized by our own Brent Evans. He wanted it to be an assault battle armor, but that posed problems as the Bears already have their own original heavy and assault suits, plus all MWAoD Wraiths have close combat enhancements and jump jets, which are difficult or impossible to recreate on anything larger than a medium beyond that.

     Moving back to "Classic" BT, we had a big, fat, juicy hook in the Hybrid Rogue Bear, which wasn't really fish or fowl and could provide for a logical story, and, vice versa, could be supplied with a new raison d'être. The Rogue Bear Hybrid exists because of the Wraith and the Wraith exists because if the Hybrid. So yes, the Wraith was grandfathered into our game, but all care was taken to create a proper package both in-universe and on the game table.


     In addition, the switch in armor technically removes the infiltration role from the Anti-Infantry variant. Although not truely represented in the BattleTech tactical game, the various forms of stealth armor have long been explained as making troops more capable of sneaking up on a foe or penetrating enemy lines undetected. Personally, I'd have rather seen the mass saved from the payload change go into a better grade of stealth or equipment that would have extended the suit's endurance, such as a Power Pack and/or Extended Life Support. The latter changes would have harkened back to the Clans' first somewhat clumsy attempt at spec ops battle armor in the form of the old Headhunter Elemental variant.

     jymset: Adding to the factors which dictated the medium chassis, we also have reactive armor on 3 of 4 MWAoD Wraiths, together with a single attack variation on 1 unit which used Flamers. Those two facts then guided the stats for the Anti-Infantry variant.

     Obviously, we could have created Brent's assault monster with reactive armour and massive arm weapons and "cosmetic" claws (iirc twin ERSL were bandied about in an early draft) but ultimately, I chose to tie it all up in a neat passage. The Wraith was set in stone really early on, especially when the MWAoD "main" armor could be fit with appropriate weaponry to represent the MWAoD's variant. The Raiden may have been the top main reason for TacOps 2nd ed to feature specialized BA armors, but the Wraith was right up there.


     Overall, the Wraith doesn't appear to be a well received suit among the player base. Most of the comments I've seen and heard seem to be ones of disappointment. While it's true that the Wraith is something of a retread of the Rogue Bear (Hybrid) and is in some ways inferior to the Elemental, it's not an unworkable design. It obviously does rely upon getting in close to its infantry prey, and its armor is more to help it get there in the face of enemy support troops than helping it actually fight its intended foe. All that said, it is a dangerous infighter, that can wreak havoc at close quarters, including against armored forces that write it off as an anti-infantry unit.

     jymset: I blame the Wraith's unpopularity all on the still-great MG being so "last-century". Yes, the Wraith can be viewed as a retread from a purely design point of view, but that's the whole point! The Wraith had to exist because of MWAoD and its stats were formed in part by that legacy and in part story driven. And it might have some inferiorities compared to the Elemental - what doesn't?! - but it is also superior in certain areas.

     The Wraith's Swarm attack in particular is something that should be of concern for any opponent, with a full Point able to inflict twenty-two points of damage, enough to force a piloting check. Assuming both Machine Guns hit, then on average a Point of five Wraiths can eliminate twenty-one infantry in a single Turn, with the Anti-Infantry variant able to up that average to sixty-one! In addition, enemy tanks and damaged ’Mechs face an average of six possible crit chances per salvo, potentially far outweighing the importance of the actual raw damage inflicted.

     So the Wraith isn't totally worthless, it just struggles a little given the expectations set by the proliferation of technology that resulted in infantry like the RAF Special Forces and battlesuits like the Elemental (Fire). Those are perhaps unfair benchmarks in a universe where the humble rifle infantry platoon should be the most common opponent, but they're out there. As a close quarters fighter, the Wraith is a solid performer, it just needs to stick to what it does best.
« Last Edit: 25 June 2014, 23:47:45 by sillybrit »

UnLimiTeD

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Wraith Battle Armor
« Reply #1 on: 03 February 2014, 07:01:38 »
This actually looks like a decent suit for it's purpose, as much as I can't actually judge it's looks.
Everything profits from an APGR, but "Let's make it bland" is no improvement in my book.
Another great article in my favourite series. O0
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Jellico

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Wraith Battle Armor
« Reply #2 on: 03 February 2014, 07:39:12 »
     jymset: I blame the Wraith's unpopularity all on the still-great MG being so "last-century". Yes, the Wraith can be viewed as a retread from a purely design point of view, but that's the whole point!

Sorry mate. Fashion has nothing to do with it. It is sub par performance on the modern battlefield. Even I am struggling to keep them alive against frontline opposition. And I am afraid that is where the Dominion RAT puts them  ;)

sillybrit

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Wraith Battle Armor
« Reply #3 on: 03 February 2014, 10:22:41 »
It's solidly a support suit in my eyes, meant almost totally for anti-infantry, with the option for a point range assault against a Mech or armor foe unlucky or unwary enough to allow them to get close. It doesn't have the range or flexibility to operate well outside that niche, which is why I find myself with reservations about it. Weak performance outside of a design's niche role is common to battle armor - and larger units for that matter - but some suits have a larger niche than others.

If the Wraith dropped those Vibro-Claws to instead improve the other armament and/or swapped the MGs for an APGR, then I - and probably many others - would be much happier, but it would no longer be a Wraith. My design and tactical preferences aside, when it comes to designing then fluff trumps stats in my eyes. As jymset reveals, the Wraith had to continue the style of the Rogue Bear lineage while also fitting certain criteria inherited from Clickytech. If judged purely from that standpoint, then it's a great design. However, for many players a unit is judged by the pew-pew first and the fluff second, if at all. That's where the Wraih is suffering most.

Hmmm, I probably should have written that into the article in the first place. Oh well.

wantec

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Wraith Battle Armor
« Reply #4 on: 03 February 2014, 13:57:11 »
It's solidly a support suit in my eyes, meant almost totally for anti-infantry, with the option for a point range assault against a Mech or armor foe unlucky or unwary enough to allow them to get close. It doesn't have the range or flexibility to operate well outside that niche, which is why I find myself with reservations about it. Weak performance outside of a design's niche role is common to battle armor - and larger units for that matter - but some suits have a larger niche than others.
From the way I see it, it can be a nasty swarming suit, but you have to plan for that in the beginning. You need a Firemoth or other similar fast BA transport to get it in position to swarm and then let the point go crazy. It's not something that can be used in regular a combat role that has the nice extra option to swarm if someone gets close enough.
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mbear

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Wraith Battle Armor
« Reply #5 on: 03 February 2014, 14:06:30 »
It sounds like a suit more suited to second line forces or militia than front line troops.

WarGod

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Wraith Battle Armor
« Reply #6 on: 03 February 2014, 16:56:54 »
I'v used a couple points with my striker star.  Yes they did a rather nasty swarm, and proved very adequate for the job.  Have not used it in a anti infatry role, considering i'm the only one in the area that fields regular infantry
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Foxx Ital

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Wraith Battle Armor
« Reply #7 on: 04 February 2014, 01:06:52 »
Believe me, I love the write up and fluff for it. The HUD system that it packs is AWESOME..so it will be a lot of fun to use in AToW. My big beef is it feels more like a second line unit.
« Last Edit: 04 February 2014, 01:08:55 by Foxx Ital »
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