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Author Topic: Battle Armor of the Week - Simian  (Read 3164 times)

sillybrit

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Battle Armor of the Week - Simian
« on: 24 August 2014, 04:18:04 »
Simian Battle Armor - Technical Readout 3145 Republic Of The Sphere page 7


     One of two battle armor from Technical Readout 3145 Republic of the Sphere that originates in clickytech, the Simian is also the second of the medium suits introduced by the RAF, following the earlier Quirinus.

     A good question to be asked would be just why did the RAF feel the need to develop a second medium battlesuit so shortly after the first, especially when they also have access to IS Standards, Pumas, Angeronas... the list goes on, even including Clan suits. Obviously there's real world reasons, but within the game universe you ideally need a new design to fill an empty (or at least sparse) battlefield niche. The fluff for the Simian notes that the suit was intended for extended operations in the field, with minimal outside support, but in purely game terms the suit is a good close quarters fighter that works well in urban combat.

     As with other clickytech designs, the existing material helped established the appearance and stats of the proper BattleTech version. Of particular note is the Dark Age 3136 LinkNet document that can be downloaded from here, which has a couple of mentions of the Simian and its characteristics. From the LinkNet article, we can see that the Simian is a simple design, with few frills, making it easy to support in the field. It's for that reason that it was developed and then deployed on the RAF's false flag missions that we read about in LinkNet. Without LinkNet, it would have seemed likely for the Simian to be assigned to another power, as within MWDA it could be fielded by the Suns, Lyrans, Capellans and the Wolf Hunters, who are the mercenary successors of the Steel Wolves, and thus loosely associated with Clan Wolf. The association with the Centaur, which shares deployment with the Suns and Lyrans, would have made those two states the more likely candidates without LinkNet to clear the mists from around the gorillas.

     jymset: More than most other DA units, the Simian and Centaur were shrouded in mystery until it was made clear that those attacks described in LinkNet were the Republic's doing. While the Centaur is its own special story, the leitmotif of the Simian was simplicity, maybe even deliberate mediocrity. No other DA suit went through so many drafts and revisions, with many alternate options that were looked at. For example, it was an endless question of whether to go with vibro or magnetic claws.

     LinkNet also provides us with such details as the Simian's apelike appearance, the laser armament, the jump jets, its physical attack capability and its stooped over gait, and those all appear in the BattleTech version of the design. It's not a perfect copy, as the Total War rules don't really allow for an almost purely melee battlesuit, with twin Vibro Claws being the closest (and subpar) match, so it gets an enhanced Anti-Mech attack instead. Likewise, there's no rule that provides a bipedal battlesuit a mobility boost for running on all fours, but with the right stats that becomes flavor fluff.

     Starting with the mobility, the Simian has the typical medium battle armor jump capability, able to propel the suit up to 90 meters, or three hexes, with every jump. That's enough to allow the Simian to generate a +3 Target Movement Modifier including the battle armor bonus vs non-infantry, equalling the likes of the IS Standard and Elemental. Where the Simian does differ is that it has twice the ground speed of those older suits, representing the boost from using its arms to assist with running. Unfortunately being able to move two hexes per Turn isn't enough to generate a Target Movement Modifier, but the extra hex of movement can prove useful when running around inside buildings. The Simian might be slower on its feet than other suits that're noted as good city combatants, such as the GD Standard, but unlike most of those, the Simian's jump jets provides movement options that they lack, greatly enhancing its operational flexibility.

     jymset: The Simian's movement mode in MWDA even briefly made me dabble with quads and mechanic jump boosters, but that would've flown in the face of its DA "grapple" ability. I even considered 3/2 movement and mine clearance gear, because that would be a way to rationalise its almost-quad stoop.

     The Simian's armament is definitely old school, with a Modular Weapon Mount fitted to the right shoulder judging by the artwork, but counted as arm-mounted by the stats. The LinkNet document and the MWDA figures established the torso location for the weapons, but if they were indeed mounted in the body of the suit, then the Simian couldn't do any damage while Swarming. So the artwork arguably doesn't 100% match the unit stats as a way to get around the problem. This isn't without prescedent, as the Clan Medium Battle Armor had an arm-mounted missile launcher according to the stats, but the artwork showed it mounted up on the shoulder, opposite a second, torso-mounted launcher apparenly perched on the other shoulder.

     jymset: Along with the alternative movement and mine clearance manipulators noted above, for a long time I really did want to make the MWM body-mounted, and that was the most serious alternative build out of all the options considered before the final design was decided upon. The rationale would've been that the MWM would've had an additional slot, allowing a four-shot SRM4. It couldn't have jumped while fielding that, hence the accentuation of the ground speed vs the jump. I decided that it was way too weird in the end.

     With the Modular Weapon Mount able to accomodate weapons and equipment up to 200kg and 2 slots in size, the canon configurations come as no real surprise, but are a solid set of choices. Perhaps the best of the bunch is the Light Recoilless Rifle, that provides both decent dual-purpose firepower and good range by battle armor standards. The Flamer is the anti-infantry weapon par excellence and is the only one of the original trio first seen on the Elemental and IS Standard that I still consider viable. The Small Laser and Heavy Machine Gun both deal the greatest amount of damage per shot, but I'm not convinced the reduced range is enough to balance out that extra punch when compared to the Light Recoilless Rifle. The HMG does also deal extra damage against infantry, although not quite the same level as the Flamer, but its even shorter ranged than the Small Laser to compensate. Of course, inside buildings and shooting across streets, the short range of the laser and HMG are typically less of an issue.

     Arguably part of the weapon payload, the Searchlight might be considered sub-optimal by some, with an AP Weapon Mount a more comfortable choice. It does make the Simian a useful nightfighter, although the light is a two-edged sword, also illuminating the battlesuit, and does require the use of optional rules. Of greater use in most scenarios, the dual Magnetic claws make the Simian a more capable Swarmer, providing a bonus to climb onto the target and to avoid being shaken loose. The Small Laser or HMG would be the most damaging options when Swarming, but it's still only going to be twelve points of damage at best, so you might still want to stick with that Light Recoilless Rifle, or the Flamer if there's anti-infantry and/or incendiary work that needs doing. Obviously, battle armor need to get close to a target to be able to conduct Anti-Mech attacks, and what better place for that than street fighting, neatly fitting in with the movement profile.

     So far, the Simian compares well with the IS Standard, having retained the same firepower, added extra features and even enhanced mobility, but now comes the cost. With only seven points of standard armor, the Simian is definitely towards the lower end of the protection scale for medium battle armor, with the LinkNet document noting that armor had been sacrificed. Those medium suits that do have worse armor strength make up for it in terms of stealth - the Puma and Void are good examples - but the Simian gets nothing other than armor just barely superior to the maximum seen on light battlesuits. While that might not matter if you're going up against lots of lower end weapons such as Inner Sphere Medium Lasers or AC/5s, the protection is not going to be enough if the foe comes after you with Large Lasers or Light Gauss Rifles, something that the Quirinus can at least survive once. The Simian is at least capable of taking a single hit from a Clan ER Medium Laser or Pulse Medium Laser and still keep ticking, and obviously can thus survive the Inner Sphere versions, but that's the only armor threshold it achieves. Altogether, this weakness is yet another reason I view the design as best suited to urban combat, where the buildings offer additional defense.

     jymset: Of course, its armour could be improved with other compounds, but in the end, I felt somewhat guilty even about the 7 points of armour it did get. It had to be relatively fragile to satisfy the LinkNet description, but I also wanted to satisfy what I consider the minimum armor standards for a medium suit.

     The Simian is notable among the new Republic battle armor designs regarding its complete lack of newer technology, although it should be noted that even the newer technology is still over half a century old, with the older techology dating around three decades earlier. Even so, the Simian excuses arguably more advanced technology such as Detachable Weapon Packs and Reflective armor, giving a definite impression of simplicity. Combine that with the optional quirk of being easy to maintain and it does satisfy the design requirement stated in the unit write up that the Simian was meant to be capable of extended deployments with minimal logistical support, satisfying the description found in the LinkNet document.

     In addition to urban combat, another area where the Simian can perform well also involves fighting inside. Thanks to its Magnetic Claws and the burst-fire weapon configurations, the Simian is a decent choice for boarding operations, while its jump jets give it some maneuverability in zero-G. Even with a Small Laser, a Simian is worth four Marine Boarding Points, with an additional point added for the other weapon configurations. That compares very well with the IS Standard, for example, that tops out at three points.

     Despite the worryingly light armor, I do consider the Simian to be of greater use overall than the earlier Quirinus in the right environment. Used with its flaws in mind, it's far more offensively capable by itself, with an arguably better choice of manipulators and undoubtably superior armament. The only advantages that the Quirinus' armament has are that it has a Light TAG plus a defensive weapon, and its canon configurations include the David Light Gauss Rifle, which outranges anything the Simian possesses. The latter could easily be mounted on the Simian, and it could also copy the TAG or Grenade Launcher, with the added bonus of extra magazines to allow multiple ammunition types, something the Quirinus could only match by dropping to the shorter ranged Micro Grenade Launcher. Apart from being able to field a TAG/weapon combo, everything the Quirinus can do offensively, the Simian can equal or better.

     The Quirinus undoubtably has superior protection, but for many hit combinations they'll still die just as quick as the Simian. Now that Mine Clearance Missiles are no longer capable of harming battle armor, area effect attacks are perhaps less commonly encountered by battle armor, but only the lighest will fail to one-shot kill a Quirinus squad. The Simian on the other manipulator can also survive some of those light area effect attacks, but will die to a greater number. That all seems slim compensation for the Quirinus given the lower offensive payload and mobility compared to the Simian. Only if you can give a Quirinus fire support from a unit that can take advantage of the TAG does it come into its own and claim back the ground it's lost to the Simian.

     On the positive side, there's little preventing the two designs from working together, as their performance capabilties aren't too dissimilar. In urban combat, where the Simians can move around more easily, then just assign those the more mobile role, while the Quirinii set up shop to help rain down TAG-guided death on the foe. Out in the field, jumping is going to be the more common movement option and in that category they're equal. For armament, the Quirinus provides longer range, while the Simian brings greater firepower, allowing a degree of mutual support. Personally, unless I was bringing a force that was heavy on the TAG usage, I would opt for two Simian squads for each Quirinus squad, if I was to keep my selection among the newer mediums available to the RAF.

     There's not much that could be done to improve the Simian within its design parameters. Swapping the Searchlight for an AP Weapon Mount would be a given, and arguably the only other option would be switching to Basic Manipulators. For most players, Swarming is seen as the weaker of the two Anti-Mech attacks due to the delay between climbing onto the target and actually getting to inflict damage. It's true that it's more flexible than Leg Attacks, as it can also be used against vehicles, but that delay does allow the possibility of the battle armor being shaken loose or destroyed before they can actually do damage. Obviously you also have to get in melee range in the first place, which isn't always possible, so some might argue that a more efficient use could be found for the 70kg the claws require. Of course, such a change would remove the design hook from LinkNet and some of the flavor of the suit, with the enhanced climbing capability neatly meshing with the apelike name and appearance.

     Switching to Advanced armor would be another option that would retain the minimal logistical support theme. It's been around in the Inner Sphere almost as long as Standard battlesuit armor, and by its nature doesn't need maintenance unless being replaced due to damage. Such a change would also save 70kg, and a lot can be done with even that amount of mass.

     Overall, the Simian is a solid suit and the artwork also looks good, definitely matching the name with is apelike stance. I would still look whistfully at the IS Standard's nine points of armor whenever I field a Simian, but I know there would be times that I appreciate the extra ground speed or being able to hang on to a bucking ’Mech where the older suit would be knocked loose. Battle armor design is typically a matter of robbing Peter to pay Paul, and I've had to think long and hard as to just why do I accept the Simian's chosen balance, but struggle to like the Quirinus. Even up to the last revision of this article my viewpoint on the latter suit had been much harsher, probably more than it deserves in all honesty. In the end I think it all comes down to personal taste: for me, the Simian simply looks better and has more character in its concept and fluff, and so I have been more tolerant of its faults and lauded its advantages more. All said and done, whether right or wrong, when it comes time to roll out, I for one will be doing it Orangutan style, so come on you apes, you wanna live forever?!

EDIT: Added link to MUL entry.
« Last Edit: 24 August 2014, 04:26:31 by sillybrit »

UnLimiTeD

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Simian
« Reply #1 on: 24 August 2014, 07:29:54 »
Thanks for the link to the linknet file, that'll provide me some reading.
Also, a surprisingly solid suit, essentially using technology available nearly a century earlier in a surprisingly decent package. Yes, a point of armour would help, but you can only do so much.

One question: If it was a fixed mount instead of a modular mount that only allows one weapon, would an LMG + Light Gauss be a valid alternative to the LRR? As far as I can see, it's the same weight and slots, and it'd be an interesting combo on this suit. Well, ok, sides the fact I can't actually install that.
Also, is running on all fours not a bit uncomfortable? Just asking. :P
« Last Edit: 24 August 2014, 07:43:34 by UnLimiTeD »
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Phobos

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Simian
« Reply #2 on: 24 August 2014, 09:00:17 »

Anyone else seeing it?  ;)

UnLimiTeD

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Simian
« Reply #3 on: 24 August 2014, 10:05:33 »
Hot damn, yes! That definitely fits.  :))
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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Simian
« Reply #4 on: 24 August 2014, 11:45:56 »
The one thing I don't get is why the Simian's gun is in the Arm, while the Trinity suits (Which have guns in the same position) have theirs in the Torso.  The art shows the guns on both BA in the same position, so why is one able to swarm attack and deal damage and the other not?

sillybrit

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Simian
« Reply #5 on: 24 August 2014, 12:14:27 »
Because rules > art.

As noted in the article, it's no different than the Clan Medium Battle Armor, that has a SRM2 launcher mounted in its left arm, but from the artwork it's mounted on its left shoulder, opposite an identically looking launcher that in stat terms is indeed mounted on the torso. There's no room for both launchers be in the torso because of the Jump Booster, but the suit had to have twin shoulder-mounted launchers because of prior MWDA art.

Because of the original MWDA art for the Simian, the weapon mount had to be on the shoulder, but because of the needs of the concept, the mount had to be in the arm.

If we needed some form of technical explanation - and making this up as I go along - the Simian's mount has a higher degree of flexibility in traverse and elevation than those on the trinity suits, and even though they're in similar positions, this allows it to perform as if it was arm mounted. In game construction terms, this was achieved by putting the Simian's mount in an arm slot. As many other things BattleTech, it's an abstraction.

UnLimiTeD

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Simian
« Reply #6 on: 24 August 2014, 13:20:02 »
I'd say that's fine by now as there's also mechs with three jump jets, but no room in the CT.
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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Simian
« Reply #7 on: 24 August 2014, 17:17:12 »
I like the suit, I think it was best combination what was put out by Linknet, which I'm grateful they kept what it had to say in line with canon. 

Matt Plog work is again great, specially when you considered that suit's actual face is not the cool Robocop look but downward faceplate.  I have one those minis, art makes it look cooler.  Thanks for the great article, guys!
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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Simian
« Reply #8 on: 24 August 2014, 23:07:37 »
Jumps 3
Magnetic claws
Headcapper and/or AI weapons
Survives clan pulse laser

Everything else is nice, but ultimately those four qualities are the Simian's strengths.  Not a bad suit.  Still prefer the Quirinus, but having them serve the same side and having the choice is best.
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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Simian
« Reply #9 on: 25 August 2014, 10:22:56 »
I have to wonder if the Simian is meant as a shock trooper. It's not heavily armored to stay in the thick of the fighting, but it has enough to survive a short time in there, which is all it needs. Built to be a psychological threat as much as a physical one, you drop it directly on the enemy, or ambush him with it, any tactic that gets it in their face with little to no warning. Once there, the threat it poses from swarming and whatnot forces the enemy to react to it NOW, so they have to redeploy to face it. After a couple turns just wreaking havoc, it withdraws, just in time for your main force to hit them from a direction they're no longer facing. If the Simians kill anything while they're there, that's a bonus. The main benefit is to your main force, that didn't have to face the full fury of the enemy's firepower while performing their own charge.
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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Simian
« Reply #10 on: 26 August 2014, 02:44:13 »
I have to wonder if the Simian is meant as a shock trooper. It's not heavily armored to stay in the thick of the fighting, but it has enough to survive a short time in there, which is all it needs. Built to be a psychological threat as much as a physical one, you drop it directly on the enemy, or ambush him with it, any tactic that gets it in their face with little to no warning. Once there, the threat it poses from swarming and whatnot forces the enemy to react to it NOW, so they have to redeploy to face it. After a couple turns just wreaking havoc, it withdraws, just in time for your main force to hit them from a direction they're no longer facing. If the Simians kill anything while they're there, that's a bonus. The main benefit is to your main force, that didn't have to face the full fury of the enemy's firepower while performing their own charge.

You mean as something of a forlorn hope? Hmm.. high risk, high casualty rate, but causing enough chaos to allow following troops to do their thing at lesser risk.. Yeah, I could actually see that, given how cheaply made it is for a suit of battle armor compared to most others.

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Simian
« Reply #11 on: 26 August 2014, 07:45:13 »
I'd like to practice a lot and refine my tactics so it wasn't quite forlorn, but yeah, that's the gist of it.
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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Simian
« Reply #12 on: 26 August 2014, 09:07:49 »
Jumps 3
Magnetic claws
Headcapper and/or AI weapons
Survives clan pulse laser

Everything else is nice, but ultimately those four qualities are the Simian's strengths.  Not a bad suit.  Still prefer the Quirinus, but having them serve the same side and having the choice is best.

Very much this.

I agree about searchlight vs ap weapon. More importantly, I also like the idea of using the Quirinus and Simian together. It seems like a natural combination.

sillybrit

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Simian
« Reply #13 on: 26 August 2014, 16:53:48 »
If you're wanting a cheap shock trooper, the IS Standard would be a better choice cost-wise. The Simian saves 20k from the reduction in armor, but the increase in ground speed adds 25k, the change in manipulators adds another 15k, plus the searchlight adds 500.

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Simian
« Reply #14 on: 26 August 2014, 17:02:15 »
If you're wanting a cheap shock trooper, the IS Standard would be a better choice cost-wise. The Simian saves 20k from the reduction in armor, but the increase in ground speed adds 25k, the change in manipulators adds another 15k, plus the searchlight adds 500.

What about for people who care exactly nil for C-bills? How does the BV work out, especially once you factor in the Simian's greater close-combat ability?
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sillybrit

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Simian
« Reply #15 on: 26 August 2014, 17:13:54 »
In BV terms, the positions are flipped. Assuming identical armament, then the Simian comes out requiring fewer points, 209 vs 231 in the case of the SL configuration, for example.

The magnetic claws and extra ground speed are vastly outweighed by the two extra points of armor enjoyed by the IS Standard in BV terms. 22 points isn't a lot, but there's some vehicles for less.

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Simian
« Reply #16 on: 26 August 2014, 17:26:10 »
Then I'll definitely go for Simians in this role.
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