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Author Topic: ProtoMech of the Week Supplemental: ProtoMech Magnetic Clamp System  (Read 2031 times)

wantec

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ProtoMech of the Week Supplemental: ProtoMech Magnetic Clamp System

Today I'm stepping on GreekFire's toes a bit and adding a supplement to his great PotW articles. Greekfire's articles have inspired me to brush up on my ProtoMech tactics (we never used them much in our local group). I was also inspired by Paul's article on artillery usage and wanted to do the same for the ProtoMech Magnetic Clamp System. My article will be a bit different from Paul's, not so cut and dry

The ProtoMech MCS was inspired by the Fa Shih battle armor and it's magnetic clamp system. Kindraa Kline of Clan Fire Mandrill was intrigued by the battle armor magnetic clamp system and contracted Clan Diamond Shark to acquire a functional Fa Shih. Kindraa Kline developed the ProtoMech Magnetic Clamp System (MCS), but it was first put into large scale use by the Society and Clan Coyote.

Functioning like the battle armor version, the ProtoMech MCS allows a BattleMech or OmniMech to carry up to two ProtoMechs like it would mechanized battle armor. The system does have it's limits, only one Ultraheavy ProtoMech (10+ tons) can be carried by a 'Mech, and the system doesn't work with Glider or Quad ProtoMechs. Depending on the tonnage of the ProtoMech, the MCS can weigh between 250kg and 1000kg and it always takes up one weapon slot in the ProtoMech's torso.

Now here's where most folks (including myself) have been confused by the rules, depending on how heavy the ProtoMech is and how heavy the 'Mech carrying it is, there's a speed penalty to the 'Mech. I discussed this with Paul (one of the inventors/developers of the tech) behind the scenes and I got the full summary of the movement penalty rules for everyone.

Speed Penalties for 'Mechs carrying mechanized ProtoMechs:
-Per 'Mech Lifting Capabilities, pg 261 TW, a 'Mech does NOT suffer any movement penalty for carrying 10% or less of their constructed weight (20% with active TSM).
-Per Movement Penalties under Cargo Carriers, pg 262 TW, a 'Mech carrying up to 25% of it's constructed tonnage suffers a -3MP or 1/2MP (round down) penalty to it's walking speed, which ever reduction is less.
-Per Movement Penalties under Cargo Carriers, pg 262 TW, a 'Mech carrying up to 25% of it's constructed tonnage suffers a 1/2MP (round down) penalty to it's walking speed.
-Per Movement Penalties under Cargo Carriers, pg 262 TW (and clarification from Paul), no 'Mech carrying a ProtoMech may use jump jets.
-Per the MCS game rules, pg 200 Wars of Reaving, OmniMechs may subtract 3 tons from the weight of each ProtoMech carried (to a minimum of 0 tons per ProtoMech).
-Per clarification from Paul, the movement penalties from carrying ProtoMechs are applied first, before any other bonuses (MASC, TSM, Supercharger, etc) and before any other penalties (hardened armor, modular armor, shields, etc).

These rules work out for some interesting possibilities.

Take a 20-ton Snow Fox, normally moving 8/12[16]. A single 5-ton Procyon Z will slow it down to 5/8[10], while any single heavier ProtoMech or a combination heavier than 5-tons will slow it down to 4/6[8]. While there aren't any canon ones yet, a 1-ton or 2-ton ProtoMech would be light enough to not slow down the Snow Fox.

Adding in the benefits of OmniMech technology, a 25-ton Cephalus E can carry a 5-ton Centaur Z without any penalty to it's 10/15 speed. Or it can carry a 5-ton Centaur Z and a 7-ton Roc Z with only a reduction to a 7/11 speed. It even could carry a pair of 9-ton Minotaur Zs with a speed reduction to 5/8.

At the other end of the weight spectrum, a 100-ton Dire Wolf could carry a 9-ton Minotaur Z and a 7-ton Roc Z without any speed penalty. But any combination heavier than that will slow down the Dire Wolf to a 1/2 speed.


Moving beyond the speed penalty rules, the game rules for the MCS on pg 200 of WoR give details on carrying and deploying ProtoMechs:
-Whenever a 'Mech carries an Ultraheavy ProtoMech, it is mounted in the front center torso.
-For non-Ultraheavy ProtoMechs, a single ProtoMech can be carried in either the front or rear center torso. Per clarification from Paul, it's the player's choice whether it goes to the front or rear.
-Due to hex stacking rules, when it comes time to unload those ProtoMechs, if a 'Mech is carrying two ProtoMechs, it can only unload one at a time.
-If the 'Mech takes damage to a center torso location carrying a ProtoMech, the 'Mech's center torso receives half (round down) of the damage. The rest of the damage is applied to the ProtoMech (with any Near Miss results being rerolled). The ProtoMech is immediately dismounted into the 'Mech's hex.

When it comes to game uses, there's some interesting choices. Like battle armor, ProtoMechs could be used as “extra armor” for the front or rear center torso of the 'Mech carrying it. Whether deploying fresh ProtoMechs or returning damaged ones to safe areas, carrying a lighter ProtoMech in the rear center torso will protect it from most incoming fire. The MCS can be used by 'Mechs to carry ProtoMechs over minefields, letting the 'Mech take the damage to it's legs instead.



Deployment in Battle:

When it comes to dropping off the (bigger) kiddies at the pool battlefield, faster is usually better. But since those movement penalties have tonnages attached to them, heavier is also better. And OmniMechs are an added bonus. Using the Society's RATs as a starting point (they did invent the tech after all), some great light choices are the Cephalus, Hellion, Fire Moth, Jenner IIC, and Incubus. The last two aren't Omnis and don't fare as well, but their high speeds (9/14 on both) means they can still speed at a good clip. Among the mediums, the best choices are the Viper, Ice Ferret, Stormcrow, and Septicemia, the first two for their speed, the last two for their bulk. Once you get to the Heavy and Assault weight classes the tonnage you can carry isn't as much of a worry as having the speed to get there. Here the Linebacker and Gargoyle start to shine.

Picking an Omni from each weight class for example purposes we take the Cephalus, Septicemia, Linebacker, and Gargoyle. We'll come back to these later, but the first two were chosen for their ties to the Society, the last two for their speed. Among the canon ProtoMechs that have the MCS, we have the 5-ton Centaur Z, 5-ton Procyon Z, the 7-ton Roc Z, the 9-ton Minotaur Z, and the 10-ton Hobgoblin and Hobgoblin 2 all Society-made from the Wars of Reaving Supplemental. There's one more straggler, the Minotaur P2 from TRO:Prototypes. Looking back to GreekFire's article on ProtoMech Force Selection http://bg.battletech.com/forums/fan-articles/protomechs-a-comprehensive-guide-part-1-force-selection/ we find that most of the ProtoMechs with MCS are standard, generalist, or troopers. The few specialists are Centaur Z, Minotaur Z, and Hobgoblin 2.

For carrying into battle, I would recommend carrying which ever ProtoMech you want to drop off first, you carry on the front. Any time a ProtoMech takes damage while being carried, it is immediately deployed into that hex. With the ProtoMech you are planning to carry the longest on your rear torso, you give it the most protection from incoming fire.

The Gargoyle, hefty, over-engined assault 'Mech that it is, can carry a wide variety of ProtoMechs into battle. It can carry a Hobgoblin without any speed penalty. Or it can carry a Minotaur Z for hole punching with a Centaur or Procyon Z for finishing all without any speed penalty. With the Linebacker, it can carry a single Minotaur or a Roc and a Centaur/Procyon and still keep it's speed up. While the Septecima isn't quite as versatile, it can still carry a pair of Centaur Zs for long range fire support without slowing down. Even the Cephalus can carry a Centaur/Procyon into battle without slowing down. And if it was ok slowing down to 7/11, it could carry a Minotaur surprise to drop off for someone.

When the Society first showcased mechanized ProtoMechs, the MCS was an excellent way to disguise their numbers and the capabilities of their forces. A Trey of 'Mechs could carry up to two Uns of ProtoMechs with a third Un consisting of non-MCS ProtoMechs. Running at a slower speed max speed and then taking off at a faster one after deploying the carried ProtoMechs would have hindered the Warriors identification of the Society 'Mechs, even the variants of traditional OmniMechs. Likewise, two mixed Treys, each one consisting of two Uns of 'Mechs and one of MCS-equipped ProtoMechs, with a command Un of a fifth 'Mech (along with a stolen paint scheme), could have easily confused a Warrior commander into thinking he was facing a simple star of 'Mechs from another Clan instead of a Sept of Society forces.


Each of the MCS-equipped ProtoMechs (except the two Hobgoblins and the Roc) have been covered in an article already by GreekFire. Included below are links to those articles for a more in-depth review of their capabilities.
Centaur Z - http://bg.battletech.com/forums/fan-articles/protomech-of-the-week-centaur/
Procyon Z - http://bg.battletech.com/forums/fan-articles/protomech-of-the-week-procyon-and-procyon-%28quad%29/
Minotaur Z & P2 - http://bg.battletech.com/forums/fan-articles/protomech-of-the-week-minotaurs-of-every-flavor/

In the interest of thoroughness, I've included my brief review of the Roc Z, and the two Hobgoblins. While nowhere near as good as Greekfire's, hopefully they will suffice until he can get to his versions.


The Roc Z is very similar to the standard Roc. The movement profile is the same. The armor is almost identical, adding one point to the Head, a wise move which brings it up to 6 points required to destroy the head. The ER Medium Laser is downgraded to a Medium Chemical Laser. While the range and damage are less, 5 points of damage out to 9 hexes is nothing to ignore often. And with 20 rounds of ammo, any shot possible is worth taking. Without considering the MCS, this is a good ProtoMech in my mind, I just wish the original had dropped the jump jets for the MCS instead of the main gun swap.


It is often said that no plan survives first contact with the enemy. The first plan for the Hobgoblin was to simply use it as a test-bed for multiple concepts and it was never intended to be used in front-line combat. The Hobgoblin was a designed to test the Ultraheavy ProtoMech type, the MCS, and Fusillade missile system.

Weighing in at 10-tons, the Hobgoblin is the lightest of the Ultraheavy class. Moving at a 4/6 speed means it can keep up with most 'Mechs that could easily carry it. With 55 points of armor, it is only 2 points shy of max armor, and it carries more armor than the Fire Moth which weights twice it's weight. This left it little room for weapons, a single Fusillade in the main gun, and a single AP Gauss in the right arm. A full ton of ammo supplies the AP Gauss, tonnage that feels like it could have been better used if the Hobgoblin had been designed as a line combatant from the start.

I would use the Hobgoblin as a command unit. The armor gives it staying power, the AP Gauss has good reach, and the Fusillade can pack two rounds of iATM ammo of your choice for just the right shot. This also would have worked well as a command unit for the Society, putting a Trey or Sept commander in one of the smaller units, something the Warriors would not have likely predicted, especially the way some Clans view ProtoMechs.

The Hobgoblin 2 is much more of a combat unit. Going for a tried & true weapon, it drops the main gun, the Fusillade, and two points of armor from the legs (down to 10 points). All of these trade offs allow it to carry a four-pack of AP Gauss Rifles, although each one only has 5 rounds of ammo. With the same 4/6 speed, I would use your faster 'Mechs to drop this infantry shredder in someone's lap. Let it blow through it's ammo, and then pick it up and try to return it for reloading. My only wish is that it had more ammo. Although by my rough math in my head (and the errata thread) it's 800kg underweight. Underweight is perfectly legal, but that would work out to an additional 8 rounds per AP Gauss.


All-in-all, the ProtoMech Magnetic Clamp System is a pretty useful piece of battlefield technology. I hope you've enjoyed my article, and that you've been able to follow it (I've worked on it in my spare time with two little ones at home). Questions and comments are welcome, for any thrown fruit, please direct it at Paul, this piece of tech is all his fault.
BEN ROME YOU MAGNIFICENT BASTARD, I READ YOUR BOOK!


GreekFire

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Excellent article! Thank you for writing this up, this is an essential resource for any players interested in giving the Society a try.
I had been working on a few tables to assist players with their ProtoMech carrier choices; this article was the last push I needed to finish them up.


The first table here shows the different weight totals you can get by mixing and matching the different MCS Protos available to the Society. Keep in mind that these totals were calculated before taking any Omni weight reductions into account.


~ ~ ~

This second table shows the tonnage of any potential 'Mechs that might carry MCS Protos. This is helpful for determining what is/isn't possible, and takes into account any MCS combinations and the increased Omni efficiency. Any sections labeled "N/A" are options that are impossible to achieve with the current ruleset.


~ ~ ~

Finally, this table shows my recommendations for MCS transports at each total weight combination. This table is not absolute - there are certain scenarios where using a transport with the same (or lower) maximum speed as your ProtoMech(s) can be beneficial (as wantec said, minefields are a very important one. Using the ProtoMechs as ablative armor can certainly be another). Sections with "N/A" are either speeds that are impossible to achieve for that MCS Proto weight (eg: there is no canon 7/11 option for a combined 14 tons of MCS Protos), or are suboptimal for the ProtoMechs that make up that specific tonnage (eg: 10 tons (dual) is made up of two 5-ton MCS Protos - both 5-tonners move 6/9/6, making a 6/9 or 5/8 transport less than ideal in your generic transportation role.)

Taking this into account, I'd definitely take a look at those neglected Phantom minis you've got lying around. The Fire Moth, Fenris and Viper are three other excellent choices, while "pure" Society forces can definitely make very good use out of the Cephalus. I'd personally say that cheaper is better in many situations - it'll allow you to field larger ProtoMech forces while still letting you field enough transports to strategically encircle your target with them.
Looking for a write-up on your favorite 'Mech? Check this out: http://bg.battletech.com/forums/index.php?topic=174.0
Want to know which 'Mechs haven't been covered? Take a look at this: http://pastebin.com/9LNAMhFC
Interested in requesting or writing a 'Mech of the Week article? Come join us over here: https://bg.battletech.com/forums/index.php?topic=55619.0

wantec

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One thing I forgot to mention last night, Paul said all of this applies to Superheavy 'Mechs as well.
BEN ROME YOU MAGNIFICENT BASTARD, I READ YOUR BOOK!


Wrangler

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I think the magnetic clamp system is great thing for the protomechs.  Being able transport the slower and heavier ones to deployment zone would help speedy up a game bit if you need move your units into position.   I secretly wish they had made them so Ultralight BattleMechs could use these things.

I do get this image in my head of a Star of ProtoMechs riding saddle on a Star of Balius and calling them the Posse.   :D

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GreekFire

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Hmm, I'm not sure how useful using Superheavies to carry MCS Protos would be. On one hand, the superheavies could help carry non-jumping Protos through heavily forested or rough terrain. But on the other hand, the superheavy's level 3 height would mean that the Proto would get hit a lot more frequently.

If there's one thing I love about the MCS, it's how it created a viable niche for slower lightweight ProtoMechs (beyond OOU factors such as BV or balance). I'm sort of disappointed that the Society didn't create a sort of "proto-elemental", something like a 2/3/2 3-tonner with MCS, a light gun and a few SRM tubes. It wouldn't have been good or particularly useful, but it would have been interesting as a cheap, spammable replacement for their BA-light forces.

I do have two questions, now that I think about it. Currently, the rules that that when a carrier is hit by weapons fire, the MCS Proto is automatically dismounted. So:
1) Can the ProtoMech, during the movement phase of the next turn, remount the Mech?
2) Can the ProtoMech, during the movement/attack phases of the next turn, fully act as a combat unit?

I'm asking since, depending on the answer, this apparent drawback could actually a hidden advantage. If the answer to 1 is yes, then the ProtoMech doesn't have to stand still and hold fire for a turn if a stray shot knocks it off. And if the answer to 2 is yes, it can easily just clamber back onto the Mech *and* act as an initiative sink if forced off in an unfavorable area.
Looking for a write-up on your favorite 'Mech? Check this out: http://bg.battletech.com/forums/index.php?topic=174.0
Want to know which 'Mechs haven't been covered? Take a look at this: http://pastebin.com/9LNAMhFC
Interested in requesting or writing a 'Mech of the Week article? Come join us over here: https://bg.battletech.com/forums/index.php?topic=55619.0

wantec

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Hmm, I'm not sure how useful using Superheavies to carry MCS Protos would be. On one hand, the superheavies could help carry non-jumping Protos through heavily forested or rough terrain. But on the other hand, the superheavy's level 3 height would mean that the Proto would get hit a lot more frequently.

If there's one thing I love about the MCS, it's how it created a viable niche for slower lightweight ProtoMechs (beyond OOU factors such as BV or balance). I'm sort of disappointed that the Society didn't create a sort of "proto-elemental", something like a 2/3/2 3-tonner with MCS, a light gun and a few SRM tubes. It wouldn't have been good or particularly useful, but it would have been interesting as a cheap, spammable replacement for their BA-light forces.

I do have two questions, now that I think about it. Currently, the rules that that when a carrier is hit by weapons fire, the MCS Proto is automatically dismounted. So:
1) Can the ProtoMech, during the movement phase of the next turn, remount the Mech?
2) Can the ProtoMech, during the movement/attack phases of the next turn, fully act as a combat unit?

I'm asking since, depending on the answer, this apparent drawback could actually a hidden advantage. If the answer to 1 is yes, then the ProtoMech doesn't have to stand still and hold fire for a turn if a stray shot knocks it off. And if the answer to 2 is yes, it can easily just clamber back onto the Mech *and* act as an initiative sink if forced off in an unfavorable area.

There's not a whole lot of uses for a Supeheavy that I could think of right away, but some include bypassing some heavy woods movement penalties, avoiding minefields, using that big 'ole chassis as a shield (when carried on the rear), if playing double-blind you can "hide" your numbers, and lastly just the mental image of a SuperHeavy 'Mech dropping off a pair of 9 ton "battle armor" or a single 15 ton one. And there are some SH 'Mechs that move 3/5, which can be as fast as some Protos and faster than a damaged proto or one with it's legs shot off.
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Sabelkatten

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If there's one thing I love about the MCS, it's how it created a viable niche for slower lightweight ProtoMechs (beyond OOU factors such as BV or balance). I'm sort of disappointed that the Society didn't create a sort of "proto-elemental", something like a 2/3/2 3-tonner with MCS, a light gun and a few SRM tubes. It wouldn't have been good or particularly useful, but it would have been interesting as a cheap, spammable replacement for their BA-light forces.
One of the first things I thought of was "portable missile battery". 4- or 5-ton proto with 3/5 speed and packing a LRM4 or -5 with a large ammo supply (~20 rounds). I've used heavy BA for this, but in some terrain a 3/5 proto will be a lot more mobile if needed.