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Author Topic: Fighter of the Week, Issue #001 (repost) - Xerxes  (Read 9121 times)

Trace Coburn

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Fighter of the Week, Issue #001 (repost) - Xerxes
« on: 31 January 2011, 07:30:16 »
XERXES - Clan, 85t - TRO3067
Originally posted (ye gods! :o) 17 Nov. 2004

  All proposed fan-variants should be posted in the corresponding "FotW Workshop" thread.


  Let's get this out of the way at the start, okay?  The Xerxes looks absolutely BAD-ASS.  Those anhedral, forward-swept, double-delta wings and dorsal-mounted intakes make it look like a cross between a Kilrathi fighter out of the Wing Commander game-series and the title aircraft in Firefox, which is one of my all-time favourite jet-fighter movies.

  Unfortunately, like so many other cool-looking Smoke Jag designs (Cauldron-Born and Subatai, anyone?), the Xerxes' aesthetics mask some truly dreadful design choices that hobble its combat utility.  It has formidable short-term throw-weight, of course - the Jag's 'smashmouth' fighting style makes that a given - but when that's exhausted, you have problems.  The fluff says that the Xerxes is "derisively known among Clansmen as 'the Hunchback IIC of the skies'", which is not an inaccurate comparison.


GOOD POINTS:

  POWERPLANT: The Xerxes is powered by a 340SFE that gives it a 6/9 thrust curve, making it about as mobile as any fighter of its size can be and more so than many - among the Clans, only the Scytha can match both its size and speed.  This is fed by fuel-tanks holding a staggering eight(!) tons of go-juice, giving it more legs than any other canon fighter apart from the Hydaspes 2 or the SL-25 Samurai, both of which can only match its reach without exceeding it, or the longer-ranging SL-15 Slayer, whose ten tons of gas are almost ludicrous.  Looking for a long-duration CAP or an ultra-long-range interception (which is the model's designed role, according to the fluff)?  You'll love the Xerxes' combat radius.

  PRICE-TAG: SFE fighters aren't too popular with the affluent factions in the modern era, but a price-tag of 6.55 million C-bills per bird makes the Xerxes awfully attractive to buyers looking for heavy fighters on a budget.  The BV of 1,789 is likewise very cheap for the price, meaning that a Xerxes can under-cut some Sulla and Turk configurations, much less other Clan heavies.  (This suggests some problems with the BV system, but that's neither here nor there.)

  FIREPOWER: The Clan Ultra-20 is the most powerful conventional weapon in AT2, short range notwithstanding, and the Xerxes has one in each wing - get caught in front of a Xerxes at Medium range or closer, and you WILL know you've been kissed.  Two UAC/20s will all but vapourise most light or medium fighters, and it'll sure-as-hell get the attention of anything bigger (up to and including many WarShips).  The nose mounts a pair of C/ERLLs; 'token' long-range firepower to some, but considering that said 'token' laser bay is enough throw-weight to threshold any other canon fighter without exception, I'm not about to argue the choice on the grounds of effective hitting-power or reach.

  The Xerxes does have one other advantage in this area that few Clan players consider very often: a truly titanic bomb-load.  The Clans don't often use ASFs for ground-attack, but when they do, the Xerxes is a bomb-truck matched only by the Scytha: it can carry seventeen tons of bombs and still fly, albeit not well.   Even at the 'minimum' 3/5 thrust profile, it's carrying some fifteen tons of externals, which is none too bad.  That much bird-crap falling out of the sky will ruin anybody's day.  With its capacious fuel reserves, it can stick around afterward to make more follow-up passes with its onboard weaponry than any other bird flying - and a point-strike attack with twin UAC/20s is the sort of thing assault 'Mech pilots have nightmares about.


BAD POINTS:

  ARMOUR: HM:A considers '100% protection' to be devoting 20% of a fighter's total mass to armour; personally, I've always been more comfortable edging a little above that mark, but like with a BattleMech, 17% armour by mass (being 85% of 'maximum' armour coverage) is what I consider an absolute minimum - especially since armour is so cheap in C-bill and BV terms.  Considered in that light, the Xerxes' nine tons of ferro-aluminium sheathing, Clan-grade or not, is utterly inexcusable (except as a way to kill off solahma pilots, which is dumb even for the Clans).  While the Xerxes is immune to TACs from an Inner Sphere medium laser, anything more potent - including all of the Clan medium beam-weapons - is going to punch right on in and do unspeakable things to the ship's guts. 

  HEAT: The downside of the Xerxes' impressive throw-weight is the fact that twelve freezers just isn't enough dissipation capacity.  You have just enough to fully sink the lasers, but firing both Ultra-20s will put you over; doing so again without taking a turn to cool off by not firing anything will cause problems.  And forget an alpha-strike at any point - you'll depart controlled flight, shut down the powerplant, cook off your ammo and/or fry the pilot all at once, which is a rather humiliating way to die in the post-3050 era.  I try not to be an alpha-baby, but I do greatly prefer clear range-brackets that are heat-neutral, and the Xerxes doesn't have those.

  AMMUNITION: If you're tracking ammo consumption, the Xerxes is a cardinal example of what not to bring to an extended fight.  Five turns at double-rate will pulverise pretty much anything short of a WarShip, true, but after that you've got only two C/ERLLs.  Considering the batteries most heavy OmniFighters carry and the criminally thin armour on the Xerxes, that's not a worthwhile arsenal - it's a way to kill your own pilots if they stick around, or just enough to let them defend themselves on the way back to the barn to re-arm.  Granted, in anti-'Shipping Stars this ammo lasts the full ten turns (being that you can't fire both Ultras at once), but still....  :-\


ALTERNATE VERSIONS:

  The CHH Xerxes 2 is a step in the right direction, trading the ammo-hog Ultra-20s for Gauss Rifles: alpha-strikes are now possible (though your heatscale will still climb, albeit not terribly fast), you don't have to risk point-blank return fire, and the ammo lasts longer (though the throw-weight is effectively halved).  This one's a long-range fencer, not a mugger like the original, but the same principles apply: do your damage and go home before the return fire hits something important through that tissue-paper you're wearing.


RECOMMENDATIONS - USE:

  I'd deploy Xerxes Points or Stars against DropShips and larger vessels, using max-thrust slashing attacks to get in, inflict massive damage with those twin BFGs, then using the next turn or two to extend and cool off without firing anything; turn back in, lather, rinse, repeat as necessary.  By preference, I'd use two or more such units, each pair of Xerxes formations zig-zagging across the target's base course (and crossing each other over the target) as they made simultaneous firing passes (to stretch the defences) then extended to cool off and let other units make similar passes.  When you run out of ammo, disengage and go home to re-arm.  If there's anything left of the target by the time you get back into the fight, start the whole process all over again.  The SLDF-era vessels fielded by most Clans, the ones with only capital missiles for ASF defence, are your prey of choice; avoid anything built recently, since they actually have anti-fighter arrays worth the name.  DO NOT GET SUCKED INTO A SLUGGING MATCH.
  The Xerxes' inadequate cooling prevents Xerxes Stars from using both UAC bays simultaneously in the anti-'Shipping role, which is rather disappointing.  Nonetheless, if one uses the lasers at Extreme and Long range, then immediately transitions to firing only one Ultra, you can make a hell of a mess - a full Star generates a 20-Capital laser bay and two 30-Capital Ultra bays, which can shatter most civilian 'Ships in one volley and tear large, bloody holes into anything military.  Even the toughest of WarShips should watch out for Xerxes Stars.  Still and all, what's the point of having all that firepower if you can't use all of it effectively?

  By preference, you shouldn't engage fighters at all, but if you must, or if you have an opportunity to finish a cripple in one pass, once again the Xerxes is the master of the slashing attack.  Use full-thrust to get close, hit hard, and get out before the other guy realises what the hell hit him.  DO NOT GET SUCKED INTO A SLUGGING MATCH - most other heavies can take far more punishment that you can, and some have the arsenals and the heat-efficiency to dish out more, too.  DO NOT ENGAGE ANYTHING SMALLER THAN 70 TONS - the Xerxes has no defence against 'tailing' and has no business inviting a turning engagement with more agile aircraft that can and will crit the hell out of you.  Either way, get into an extended engagement and you'll get handed your lunch, so DON'T DO IT.

  As a ground-attack aircraft, bomb the hell out of them (if you have bombs), then make strike attacks with your UACs.  Don't stick around, especially once your bomb-racks are clean and your magazines empty - the amount of damage two C/ERLLs will put on a target (either in a strike or a strafe) just isn't worth the ground fire you'll take.  Fuel-state or not, three passes is the absolute maximum safe loiter time - anything more is begging for a Darwin Award candidacy.


RECOMMENDATIONS - COUNTERING:

  To take down a Xerxes with minimum risk, make maximum use of stand-off engagements, especially with long-range weapons with damage 5 or more - large LRM racks, ER lasers and PPCs, AC/5s and UAC/5s, any class-ten AC, or Gauss Rifles (light or standard).  Even if you don't kill him outright, all those threshold criticals will ruin his day but good.

  Alternately, you could go for the 'Titanium Testicles' approach and engage at close range with a more agile aerofighter, evading his fire while hoping for threshold crits, preferably from the flanks or behind.  Sparrowhawks, Seydlitz and Sholagars, or Clan Bashkirs, Chaeroneas, Avars or Batus, are the vehicles of choice for this 'death of a thousand cuts' approach, though I wish you luck - one slip and there won't be enough left of your bird to make a decent tinfoil wrapping for your ashes.


  All proposed fan-variants - including my own - belong in the corresponding "FotW Workshop" thread: http://www.classicbattletech.com/forums/index.php?topic=807.0 .
  Be advised: the attached .txt transcripts of previous runs of this thread contain numerous reader-proposals for variants.  I'll try to change those out for 'sanitised' versions of those threads when I can, but I can't promise it'll be soon - that's a lot of ground to cover.  ;)

  FWIW, my current intentions are to repost at least one FotW per night, but I'll try to accelerate that where I can, since such a pace would mean I'd be at this most of the year(! :o) even without any new content (:().

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Re: Fighter of the Week, Issue #001 (repost) - Xerxes
« Reply #1 on: 31 January 2011, 10:25:36 »
The simple judgment: More firepower than heat, armor, or sense.  It's very Clanner in that regard.  It has some uses, especially when you really need to punch someone right in the nose, but the squadron rules get in the way of its potential for DropShip popping unfortunately.  It's a pity that the very pretty artwork doesn't get stats that let it shine.

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Re: Fighter of the Week, Issue #001 (repost) - Xerxes
« Reply #2 on: 31 January 2011, 21:01:01 »
Thanks for re-posting this Trace!

I've had a lot of fun with this bird, it's now where near perfect but that's probably one of the reasons it's so enjoyable to take to a game. plus there's the fact that it's just one of the coolest looking machines out there.

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Re: Fighter of the Week, Issue #001 (repost) - Xerxes
« Reply #3 on: 01 February 2011, 01:28:32 »
I'm actually rather fond of the GaussXes, if only because the standoff range gives you some chance at survivability with the tinfoil skin. The original's intimidating on its surface, but the heatburden's a bit on the ridiculous side. About the only way I can see of fixing it just wouldn't fly (Pardon the pun), since it'd require going to an XL engine, putting on 6 more heatsinks to at least bring it to a double AC heatneutral, and funnelling the rest into armor. That'd make it a really sick bird, but kinda lame anyway.

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Re: Fighter of the Week, Issue #001 (repost) - Xerxes
« Reply #4 on: 01 February 2011, 08:59:33 »
The Gauss model is useful, since the overheat is not nearly as much of an issue in either squadrons or in normal combat.

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Re: Fighter of the Week, Issue #001 (repost) - Xerxes
« Reply #5 on: 01 February 2011, 20:38:14 »
The original has only 1 use IMHO,  a max thrust flyby in deep space where 1-2 round of fire is all I'm going to get before I'm out of range of return fire.
The heat curve is just too brutal to make dueling a possibility IMHO
Its useful for tearing through a dropship on a single pass......... and that is about it.

Don't get me wrong, I like it for that, the fuel tanks even help it as a fighter than can engage away from the planet and then limp back after the flotilla has passed, and its minus a ship or 2.

The 2 model on the other hand has got real potential as a "Fire-Support" fighter.
Keep it at Long range and snipe w/ all 4 guns and you can abuse some other fighters.


Lastly, I want to mention that the way the damage works for the UAC20's w/ new TW rules was confusing for a while but I got an answer from Welshman a while back and the 30 points is divided into 2x 15 point hits, so, when you DO use them ACs you get a literal doubling of the Gauss in firepower.

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Re: Fighter of the Week, Issue #001 (repost) - Xerxes
« Reply #6 on: 01 February 2011, 21:38:23 »
The original has only 1 use IMHO,  a max thrust flyby in deep space where 1-2 round of fire is all I'm going to get before I'm out of range of return fire.

You're forgetting those times when someone on the ground really, really needs a ballistic buzz cut.  It's risky but if you wanted to be safe, why are you an ASF pilot?

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Re: Fighter of the Week, Issue #001 (repost) - Xerxes
« Reply #7 on: 02 February 2011, 00:08:21 »
I love this thing.  It's a friggin' flying Hunchback IIC, designed to fly in with a few Starmates and obliterate a DropShip in VERY short order.

It has a ton of flaws, but it is FUN.  And using these to point-strike some poor schlup in his "hardened bunker" with autocannons AND bombs is just damn amusing.
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Re: Fighter of the Week, Issue #001 (repost) - Xerxes
« Reply #8 on: 02 February 2011, 00:10:42 »
You're forgetting those times when someone on the ground really, really needs a ballistic buzz cut.  It's risky but if you wanted to be safe, why are you an ASF pilot?
Oh I feel for the mech on the other end of it, I just don't enjoy the thought of my fighter hitting the dirt because I failed the control roll from overheating and low atmosphere.
I much prefer to keep these bad boys in deep space killing dropships.
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Re: Fighter of the Week, Issue #001 (repost) - Xerxes
« Reply #9 on: 05 March 2014, 01:25:36 »
*Imagines this loaded down with Anti-Shipping Missiles and jaw hits the flaw*

If I somehow got my hands on one the first thing I'd do is upgrade the engine

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Re: Fighter of the Week, Issue #001 (repost) - Xerxes
« Reply #10 on: 05 March 2014, 01:27:47 »
I can't believe we're nearing the 10 year anniversary mark on FotW. Got something special planned for us, Trace?

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Re: Fighter of the Week, Issue #001 (repost) - Xerxes
« Reply #11 on: 05 March 2014, 02:58:40 »
I can't believe we're nearing the 10 year anniversary mark on FotW. Got something special planned for us, Trace?
  ... can’t say I’d really thought about it, especially in such terms.  If nothing else, I’ve still got a bunch of old columns that I never did re-post, and with luck TPTBs will release an aerospace-heavy TRO in the meantime.  As with many things, we’ll all just have to see what happens.  :-\

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Re: Fighter of the Week, Issue #001 (repost) - Xerxes
« Reply #12 on: 05 March 2014, 03:13:42 »
I thought that one unit type TRO's had been nicked for the future for not performing well enough. I think that 3057 might have been a particular example

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Re: Fighter of the Week, Issue #001 (repost) - Xerxes
« Reply #13 on: 05 March 2014, 05:02:26 »
Thing is, How I always see it used is in space: ALPHA once, watch what your point fired on cease to exist,
and then spend your turn of no control of movement/shutdown cooling off. Then begin maneuvring back to
the engagement to do it again because, most likely, someone is going to go engage the stuff that is back
there firing at them, not the things that are floating away...

Then again, I tend to prefer ASF dogfighting in space, with vector movement over in atmo with lawn darts.
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Re: Fighter of the Week, Issue #001 (repost) - Xerxes
« Reply #14 on: 05 March 2014, 07:19:58 »
Like yourself I LOVE the look of this fighter, all of the 3067 Clan ASF's look beautiful.  And it really is a Hunchback IIC with wings.  Great review :)
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Re: Fighter of the Week, Issue #001 (repost) - Xerxes
« Reply #15 on: 05 March 2014, 10:03:58 »
Like yourself I LOVE the look of this fighter, all of the 3067 Clan ASF's look beautiful.  And it really is a Hunchback IIC with wings.  Great review :)

You missed the Hydaspes, then..or your view of beautiful and mine do not match. I do know that, taking a pair
of Xerxes out, though, I have made dropships run from them! UAC 20 inflicts 30 damage in Aerospace..which
thresholds ALOT of things. Of course, open up at range with the Aussi-style F-111 Bannana Death Button of
Rocketry(or just, you know, 3 Arrow IV AtA rounds) before you start closing to the big guns range?
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Re: Fighter of the Week, Issue #001 (repost) - Xerxes
« Reply #16 on: 05 March 2014, 17:49:03 »
The damage doesn't stack that way - it's two clusters of fifteen points each.  That's still going to cluster nearly every fighter and a surprising number of DropShips' flanks, though.

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Re: Fighter of the Week, Issue #001 (repost) - Xerxes
« Reply #17 on: 05 March 2014, 18:11:28 »
I always thought that was a dumb rule. And that UACs should've always hit for a raw 30. Then again, it would make fighters like the Xerxes an utter terror to anything that flies. The 'Zerk (Xerxes? Nah, Berserker) is my yardstick for dropper chopping and for murdering priority targets.

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Re: Fighter of the Week, Issue #001 (repost) - Xerxes
« Reply #18 on: 05 March 2014, 18:27:59 »
I always thought that was a dumb rule. And that UACs should've always hit for a raw 30. Then again, it would make fighters like the Xerxes an utter terror to anything that flies. The 'Zerk (Xerxes? Nah, Berserker) is my yardstick for dropper chopping and for murdering priority targets.

It could be worse.  The rule as it stands is actually a compromise between unbalancing the Ultra/20 and what TW did initially, which was to treat Ultras the same as other cluster weapons and do damage in groups of 5.  It's also a little more consistent with how the gun works on non-aerospace units.

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Re: Fighter of the Week, Issue #001 (repost) - Xerxes
« Reply #19 on: 05 March 2014, 18:33:41 »
The damage doesn't stack that way - it's two clusters of fifteen points each.  That's still going to cluster nearly every fighter and a surprising number of DropShips' flanks, though.
Can you guys provide a reference for that?

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Re: Fighter of the Week, Issue #001 (repost) - Xerxes
« Reply #20 on: 05 March 2014, 18:35:49 »
Can you guys provide a reference for that?

Page 238 of TW.  There's also a couple of rules questions in the TW section that have specifically confirmed this.

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Re: Fighter of the Week, Issue #001 (repost) - Xerxes
« Reply #21 on: 05 March 2014, 19:53:09 »
Like already mentioned, it didn't even use to be that favorable.  My copy of TW (Second Printing, 2007) says split all cluster weapons into 5 point groups - no exceptions mentioned.
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Re: Fighter of the Week, Issue #001 (repost) - Xerxes
« Reply #22 on: 05 March 2014, 20:04:20 »
It could be worse.  The rule as it stands is actually a compromise between unbalancing the Ultra/20 and what TW did initially, which was to treat Ultras the same as other cluster weapons and do damage in groups of 5.  It's also a little more consistent with how the gun works on non-aerospace units.

Yeah, I saw that and shook my head in disbelief. "Twin UAC/20s? Man, good thing I have 45 armor in all locations."  :))

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Re: Fighter of the Week, Issue #001 (repost) - Xerxes
« Reply #23 on: 06 March 2014, 04:46:13 »
You missed the Hydaspes, then..or your view of beautiful and mine do not match.

The Hydaspes looks alright, its got a rather brutal "I'm gonna kick you in the teeth" look to it rather than the sleek looks of the other big Clan ASF's.
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Re: Fighter of the Week, Issue #001 (repost) - Xerxes
« Reply #24 on: 06 March 2014, 04:58:40 »
The Hydaspes looks alright, its got a rather brutal "I'm gonna kick you in the teeth" look to it rather than the sleek looks of the other big Clan ASF's.

Correction - the Hydaspes looks like it's gonna kick your teeth down into your toes.

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Re: Fighter of the Week, Issue #001 (repost) - Xerxes
« Reply #25 on: 06 March 2014, 05:26:43 »
Thing is, How I always see it used is in space: ALPHA once, watch what your point fired on cease to exist,
and then spend your turn of no control of movement/shutdown cooling off. Then begin maneuvring back to
the engagement to do it again because, most likely, someone is going to go engage the stuff that is back
there firing at them, not the things that are floating away...

Personally I'd take the opportunity to kill or maim the guy who made himself helpless rather than letting him get up again, especially if we assume they're tough enough to take out my birds in a single volley. Proper threat assessment isn't only about living in the moment.
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Re: Fighter of the Week, Issue #001 (repost) - Xerxes
« Reply #26 on: 06 March 2014, 07:46:59 »
I recommend Plasma Rifles; Gonna make that "cooloff-phase" all the more exiting.  }:)
Edit: Damn, we missed the celebration. ;D
« Last Edit: 08 December 2014, 04:43:55 by UnLimiTeD »
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Re: Fighter of the Week, Issue #001 (repost) - Xerxes
« Reply #27 on: 23 October 2017, 15:54:56 »
Personally I'd take the opportunity to kill or maim the guy who made himself helpless rather than letting him get up again, especially if we assume they're tough enough to take out my birds in a single volley. Proper threat assessment isn't only about living in the moment.

I have the mini sculpt for it - any chance we could get a full sized one?

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Re: Fighter of the Week, Issue #001 (repost) - Xerxes
« Reply #28 on: 23 October 2017, 15:56:14 »
I have one Xerxes for my HH Delta Galaxy force I am working up but will need another soon!

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Re: Fighter of the Week, Issue #001 (repost) - Xerxes
« Reply #29 on: 23 October 2017, 16:45:28 »
I have the mini sculpt for it - any chance we could get a full sized one?

I'd say the odds are decent. :)
"Thanks to Megamek, I can finally play BattleTech the way it was meant to be played--pantsless!"   -Neko Bijin
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