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Author Topic: Battle Armor of the Week - XTRO Republic I Special - Surat  (Read 3681 times)

sillybrit

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"Surat" (Gray Death) Solahma Suit - Experimental Technical Readout Republic I page 14



     The Surat is the latest variant of the Gray Death Standard, but is one that is so unique that it deserves its own Battle Armor of the Week article rather than a mere addition to the existing GD Standard thread. Published in Experimental Technical Readout Republic I, The Powers That Be have kindly allowed me to overlook the normal moratorium on recent products to give an early look at this mixed tech battle suit. Although appearing in an Experimental Technical Readout, it's worth highlighting that apart from the Beowulf IIC-PR every unit in the Readout is in full production - so that does indeed mean that you can freely field Castrums! Not all of the Readout's units are serving in the RAF, with some produced by the Republic's allies, including the humble Surat. So, even if you're not a fan of the Republic, you may still find something of interest in the Readout.

     The Surat is a design long coming in my opinion. As far back as sourcebooks such as the Battle of Twycross scenario pack, we've seen that the Clans were willing to modify captured Inner Sphere ’Mechs using Clantech hardware. Of course, the outcome would be no different than a Spheroid unit applying captured Clan equipment to their own ’Mechs, vehicles, etc, with the fact that it was the Clans doing it being the significant factor. Here we have the Clans using what is all but junk by their standards, applying their waste-not-want-not philosophy and making modest upgrades to equip their second line troops. They get to provide those troops with better equipment than the Spheroid forces they may face, while keeping the good stuff for their front line warriors.

     But we never saw that same thinking applied to battle armor. Yes, we've seen various experimental or (very) limited production designs, such as the Hauberk U15, where Spheroids modified existing Inner Sphere suits to add Clantech, but never a Clan upgrading original Inner Sphere construction. The closest we've had is the Dominion introducing mixed technology in completely new suits, matching the Inner Sphere's production of brand new suits like the Oni.

     It could perhaps be argued that the destruction of a battlesuit may not leave much salvage to work with and that cobbling together the parts from multiple suits to produce a single working example just wasn't worth the effort for the Clans. After all, to destroy a battlesuit in the game you have to blow away all the armor and then kill the trooper inside, seemingly leaving little of value behind. That's just a construct of how the Total War rules work, and there are even optional rules to determine when a suit and trooper are truly destroyed or dead rather than just eliminated for the purpose of the scenario. So that Cavalier that was destroyed might have "merely" had a leg blown off or had its visor pierced and the trooper inside killed, but nothing more.

     There's also the issue of suits captured outside of combat or perhaps even purchased, although we've yet to see a Clan do the latter. Personally, I do have to wonder why the Sea Foxes for one haven't seen the profit that could be made by buying Inner Sphere suits and making upgrades before selling them on.

     But enough waffle, let’s get into the design itself.

     In picking the Gray Death Standard, the Clan technicians gave themselves one of the simplest Spheroid battlesuits to work with. Originally designed when the Inner Sphere itself was struggling to develop battle armor, the Mary Sue Legion avoided the complexity of jump jets and converted the early prototype IS Standards provided by NAIS into what became the Gray Death Standard. With the mass saved by excusing jump capability, the GD Standard actually had a larger payload, even after upgrading the ground mobility.

     The Surat retains the 3 MP ground speed of the base GD Standard, together with the Battle Claw and AP Weapon Mount, but switches to Clan grade armor to save a hefty 225kg. The strength of the armor remains the same, making the Surat more vulnerable than the old Elemental, but still tougher than some newer designs. While the Elemental might no longer be the primary front line suit in Clan service, this inferiority does emphasize that the Surat is very much a second line design at best.

     In addition to the lighter armor, by also stripping out the Improved Sensors and Modular Weapon Mount, the Surat now had an amazing 500kg of mass available to install fixed weaponry. This payload is notably higher than could be achieved in a purely Clantech suit due to the lighter Inner Sphere chassis. Lacking Harjel and the ability to be fitted with torso-mounted missiles without impacting mobility, an IS chassis provides the only real mass advantage enjoyed by Spheroid battlesuits over their more advanced Clan cousins. With mixed technology now more common, this fact has become something of a point of argument among some players.

     For some, the prospect of the saved mass is all that matters, with the in-game advantages of Harjel providing small benefits compared to the ability to mount more armor and guns. For many designs there is no worthwhile benefit to using a heavier Clan chassis when only using Total War rules. For others, keeping to the in-universe theme is of greater importance, and the Clans obviously show no interest in discarding Harjel in their homegrown suits. Similar issues occur with design choices for other unit types, but perhaps the relative simplicity of battle armor design makes the contrast starker.

     Among canon designs, the mixed tech battlesuits have either been built in very limited numbers, such as prototypes, or they're production models that've limited their use of Clantech. The Oni is one example of the latter, using Clan armor but mostly Inner Sphere weaponry, with the Bearhunter being a Clan weapon that comes with so many flaws that arguably makes it no better than Spheroid weaponry. The Fenrir II is the alternative model, combining Inner Sphere armor with Clan firepower.

     The Surat continues the theme of the Oni, and it's fair to say that the suit exists purely because the Heavy Small Laser needed to be seen on a canon design at last. Of course, there's a reason why it hasn't been used before. The laser is one of the battle armor weapons that are identical in mass and performance to its’Mech-scale counterparts, so from that point of view it can be judged inefficient. On top of that it's very short ranged for such a heavy weapon, with the same reach as the humble Small Laser first seen on the Elemental, plus it suffers a +1 accuracy penalty. Notably you could mount a pair of Medium Recoilless Rifles for the same mass and total damage, but have double the range, increased accuracy and added anti-infantry firepower, or a Medium Laser for triple the range, increased accuracy and nearly the same damage.

     The Heavy Small Laser is a great fit for the Surat concept. The all or nothing nature of heavy lasers, that emphasizes damage over everything else, is a good match for the mindset often seen in solahma troops. The use of converted Inner Sphere suits that lack the Harjel still demanded by Clan battle armor doctrine after centuries of experience again neatly ties in with the solahma doctrine of using minimal resources to achieve the objective. Solahma aren't quite the expendable troops that some seem to believe, but the Clans generally pay lip service to their survival, and the attitude of the troops themselves often leads to higher casualties. Solahma have typically not been issued with battle armor, instead being deployed as conventional infantry, but suits like the Surat allow them to fight augmented without using valuable resources like Harjel or more advanced battle armor.

     Obviously the simplest option for the Clans would have been to just mount Clan Weaponry on unmodified GD Standards or any other Inner Sphere battlesuits equipped with a Modular Weapon Mount. That same weaponry could just as easily be used on front line suits instead, while Heavy Small Lasers represented an untapped resource. Of course, metagame issues come into play, with the desire to see the Heavy Small Laser finally used on battle armor and the preference for a new design or variant rather than just another configuration.

     Clan conversions of Inner Sphere equipment have always remained limited and somewhat sidelined. Whether the Surat will continue that trend and remain a one-off, or whether it instead represents the first of many conversions is as yet unknown. At the very least, players now have the canon example they might want to develop similar battlesuits of their own.

     Known to be in service with the Snow Ravens, judging by Surats being observed in action on Ramora in 3091, the suit can be encountered in the toumans of all the surviving Inner Sphere-based Clans, some more than others. The Surat isn't just operated by downgraded and fading Clan warriors, with some Clans also assigning them to Inner Sphere garrison troops.

     The Surat isn't the best performing battlesuit, and to be brutally honest I'd prefer to field an original GD Standard in its stead, but I find myself liking it all the same. It's the background that sells it to me, with the combination of design choices and flavor text coming together perfectly in my eyes.
« Last Edit: 12 April 2015, 16:25:41 by sillybrit »

UnLimiTeD

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - XTRO Republic I Special - Surat
« Reply #1 on: 12 April 2015, 20:09:16 »
0.o
Well, now I'm interested in that book.
A well written article toughing on all the important points for this odd duck, to which I honestly wouldn't count it's performance.
Could they recycle the original image?  :))
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GreekFire

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - XTRO Republic I Special - Surat
« Reply #2 on: 12 April 2015, 20:24:25 »
Probably my favorite thing to have come from that book. It's pretty terrible, but it's terrible for a reason. And that's why I want to use it as soon as I can.
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Colt Ward

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - XTRO Republic I Special - Surat
« Reply #3 on: 13 April 2015, 01:08:33 »
I am sorry but this suit was screaming 'Airborne!' to me . . . and that was before you even got to the part where the Ravens came up with it.  Load it on VTOLs, zipline it out of conventionals or small craft, give it 'chutes or booster packs but the Ravens are going to drop this on your head as you hit their defense line or as they are trying to punch through YOUR line.  While these may lead folks to think they are the BA version of the HBK IIC, I think they will prove more useful especially with the Raven's aero emphasis.

So while this maybe considered a prototype or developmental version . . . I would like to see it mounting Imp Small Heavy Lasers as a field upgrade.

Btw, what do they look like for AlphaStrike . . . and since it is the Ravens, even more importantly for Marine combat?
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sillybrit

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - XTRO Republic I Special - Surat
« Reply #4 on: 13 April 2015, 11:53:33 »
Just to clarify, the Ravens didn't necessarily develop the Surat, they just happen to be the only Clan that was (indirectly) referenced in the Surat's fluff. I don't believe the origin came up in the discussions with jymset, but if I was a betting man, I'd be looking towards the Falcons or Wolves, given that the GD Standard originated in the Commonwealth. Of course, the GD Standard has been sold to mercenaries across the Inner Sphere, which is why it's a common platform among multiple Clans for these conversions, but greatest concentration is still likely to be found close to the original invasion corridor.

Colt Ward

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - XTRO Republic I Special - Surat
« Reply #5 on: 13 April 2015, 12:30:31 »
Until that line I was thinking it was what the Falcons had done when they captured the suit, we know from a novel they kept it in production and were spreading it through the desant.
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False Son

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - XTRO Republic I Special - Surat
« Reply #6 on: 13 April 2015, 12:42:50 »
The GD series does get around...
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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - XTRO Republic I Special - Surat
« Reply #7 on: 13 April 2015, 14:34:01 »
Is anyone else terrified at the prospect of a Heavy Small laser in a swarm attack? Because I know a few light 'mechs that will go down fast when those hits happen.
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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - XTRO Republic I Special - Surat
« Reply #8 on: 13 April 2015, 14:48:10 »
Well, 2 can headcap a mech, so yes, i'd be a little concerned.
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Nikas_Zekeval

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - XTRO Republic I Special - Surat
« Reply #9 on: 13 April 2015, 16:29:38 »
The GD series does get around...

IIRC TRO:VA (the Bailey Armored Car I think) has in the fluff that someone used a few GD Standards to rip open and rob an armored car.  Sounded like a 31st Century North Hollywood Shootout.

chanman

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - XTRO Republic I Special - Surat
« Reply #10 on: 06 July 2015, 23:35:09 »
Hmmm... A shrinkified Crimson Langur?



Grey

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - XTRO Republic I Special - Surat
« Reply #11 on: 07 July 2015, 05:24:20 »
Is anyone else terrified at the prospect of a Heavy Small laser in a swarm attack? Because I know a few light 'mechs that will go down fast when those hits happen.

Yes, and some mediums and heavies, at the least there are a few designs that would lose limbs.

That said it strikes me as the Hunchback IIC of battle armour, with the Heavy Laser and lower survivability (mostly in universe because of the lack of Harjel) and long overdue.

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - XTRO Republic I Special - Surat
« Reply #12 on: 07 July 2015, 07:46:00 »
It strikes me as being more of a defensive unit instead of an offensive unit. Which makes sense since it's probably part of PGCs. It also probably makes sense to the Clans to convert a Point of conventional infantry (I think) to five points of battle armor units. (Conventional infantry Points have 25 warriors, right?)

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - XTRO Republic I Special - Surat
« Reply #13 on: 07 July 2015, 11:01:25 »
Defensive unit?  Bah!  Like I said, I want to kick these out of VTOLs and Kirghiz Cs over the center of some Lyran Wall of Steel.  Contend with those 3 MP SHL BA or my mechs and armor at med/long range.
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UnLimiTeD

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - XTRO Republic I Special - Surat
« Reply #14 on: 07 July 2015, 14:19:35 »
*splat*
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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - XTRO Republic I Special - Surat
« Reply #15 on: 07 July 2015, 17:46:57 »
With a solahma unit that may not be an unintended consequence.... Off hand, does any body know what needs to be done to the Surat to put a parachute on it?

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - XTRO Republic I Special - Surat
« Reply #16 on: 07 July 2015, 19:19:28 »
An interesting suit - this is the joy of -OTW articles, introducing you to units you've never been that interested before, and making them interesting!

It's a shame they're not in production until 3090, as I'm working on a Jade Falcon solahma force at the moment. but they're Omega Galaxy, and were long gone by that point. OTOH, they'll probably get an appearance in a Republican Standing Guard unit in the works; by 3140 they'll have been around for 5 decades, and plausibly available all over the place.

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - XTRO Republic I Special - Surat
« Reply #17 on: 07 July 2015, 20:04:13 »
Is anyone else terrified at the prospect of a Heavy Small laser in a swarm attack? Because I know a few light 'mechs that will go down fast when those hits happen.
No. I fear no attack thats takes two turns to activate and can be defeated by falling over.

sillybrit

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - XTRO Republic I Special - Surat
« Reply #18 on: 07 July 2015, 20:11:24 »
Off hand, does any body know what needs to be done to the Surat to put a parachute on it?

Simple: just strap on a Battle Armor Dropchute. See TO p348 for details.

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - XTRO Republic I Special - Surat
« Reply #19 on: 08 July 2015, 11:30:55 »
Of for VTOLs the infamous ziplines . . . getting the Surat to land when kicked out of Kirghiz was not really the problem.
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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - XTRO Republic I Special - Surat
« Reply #20 on: 09 July 2015, 09:39:20 »
Atlas could just throw one like grenade with Dropchute. 
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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - XTRO Republic I Special - Surat
« Reply #21 on: 09 July 2015, 11:09:28 »
That sort of thinking is why it is sad the Catapult has no arms.
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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - XTRO Republic I Special - Surat
« Reply #22 on: 11 July 2015, 09:19:06 »
Every freeborn from elememtal stock is looking at this thing going  [drool]
No more Mausers for those dudes!


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