Author Topic: 'Mech of the Week: Shadow Cat III  (Read 1404 times)

Moonsword

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'Mech of the Week: Shadow Cat III
« on: 10 November 2023, 22:35:47 »
BattleMech of the Week: Shadow Cat III


If you think a 6/9(12) 45 ton OmniMech with that profile looks awfully familiar, that's because the Shadow Cat III mirrors its predecessor. Not the Shadow Cat II – that's a Jade Falcon-produced heavy whose Dark Age art I'd managed to completely repress all knowledge of – but instead is very much in the mold of the original, refining it for a slightly different emphasis. Why did the Nova Cats do this to a highly successful OmniMech?

That's an easy question to answer, at least in character: The Ghost Bears' rampage on Irece in the Second Combine-Ghost Bear War was that devastating. As much as a lot of us tend to forget the decades between the end of the Jihad and the Dark Age's coming out party as the HPGs went dark, those years weren't made of peace, happiness, and prosperity, with three wars and plenty of BattleTech's usual feuding. And as much as a lot of people think the Ghost Bears are a "good guy" Clan, the Second Combine-Ghost Bear War ended because the Ghost Bears' actions caused so much strife back home in the Dominion, they became the only Clan – and arguably the only military in the Inner Sphere! – to be yoked by civilian leadership. This is a universe defined by military action and the Bears managed to invent something not unlike the civilian control of said military we take for granted in most countries today by going full Ghost Bear. That's impressive.

But this isn't the story of the Ghost Bears. It's the story of the Shadow Cat III, and the OmniMech's genesis is in the destruction of most of both the Nova Cats' manufacturing capabilities on Irece and their touman in the battles that raged. This same period was a clear harbinger of what was to come for the Nova Cats – even on worlds the Ghost Bears never visited, there were mass graves, presaging the Clan's near-annihilation at the hands of their ostensible patrons decades later and seeing them penned up into reservations. With that much devastation, the main asset left on Irece was a single damaged Shadow Cat line.

In the interest of preserving the warriors the badly depleted Nova Cats could field, the OmniMech was modified to thicken the armor as much as possible and increase flexibility by removing the fixed jump jets to a total of 19 tons of podspace. Personally, I have a weakness for 6/9 mediums, so this is right up my alley. The aesthetics are sleeker and meant to help evoke the Nova Cat's spirit, appealing to a battered touman facing an uncertain future. Leaning into the OmniMech's core possibilities isn't a bad idea, either. The Shadow Cat III may be similar to its predecessor but it's not identical, bringing a different mix of capabilities and offering Nova Cat fans one last swan song while also being a way to shake up your Sea Fox or Combine forces with something a little different.

Ultimately, this OmniMech's factory outlived its makers' ownership of Irece, with the Sea Foxes now taking part of the construction run for their assistance in running the manufacturing processes. Some have also spread across the border to the Rasalhague Dominion since the start of the Dark Age, with the DCMS operating others as spoils of their own conflict. If you're not on the faction roster for one of those four, the Sea Foxes might hook you up, you can try for Ghost Bear isorla, or you need to shoot more Dracs. (I favor that last option, but you should do you.) I'm going to take a moment to plug Jellico's Rime Otter article as one potential matchup with another newcomer to think about given the two Omnis' baseline alignments.

Many of the configurations are going to look familiar to Shadow Cat fans, though – the Nova Cats weren't throwing out the baby with the bathwater. The weapons are in the arms except for part of one weapon on the C config that maybe you don't want BA on when you're doing the shooty bits anyway, so the Shadow Cat III operates well as part of a nova. The natural companion there is the Nova Cats' Thunderbird armor. 6/9(12) Omnis, some of them jump-mobile, are the mobile, hard-hitting IFVs of BattleTech when they start hauling BA along and then operating in conjunction with their former passengers as opposed to battle taxi services from something like a Fire Moth or an Owens. If you want to fight like a Clanner, you can always lean into that.

The Shadow Cat III Prime is much like the Shadow Cat Prime but at the same time, it also highlights the little differences in the two 'Mechs and their respective eras when you take a step back and think about it. The original had a Gauss rifle, 16 rounds of ammo, two ERMLs, and an active probe. At first glance, the Shadow Cat III looks like it's pulling the same, but the lasers are MPLs. This lends it more endurance and by retaining the original's MASC, it plays into a medium's ability to get into firing angles and mess with people at short or medium range by forcing unfavorable target numbers. Remember, a Clan MPL will match targeting numbers with a Gauss rifle at ranges 5-7, and faster 'Mechs and reflective armor are both more common than they used to be, so not doubling down on energy weapons with something like an ER PPC and having better modifiers make some sense. Finally, there's another 8 rounds of ammo for a total of 24, giving you more ability to take marginal shots or outlast someone. Whether this compensates for the lack of jump jets or not is your call, but this is a solid sniper/skirmisher setup just like the old Shadow Cat Prime was.

The A config is again similar at first glance, but the practical implications of the differences are pretty big. They both have twin ERLLs and extra heat sinks. Instead of a Streak 6 with a ludicrous amount of ammunition by Clan standards, there's eight improved jump jets. The lack of a ninth isn't great but most people aren't fans of asymmetric arrangements (the MASC is in the CT, just like the original) and you need the heat sinks anyway. Personally, I'll take something that can bounce around like a Spider, but punches downrange like a Warhammer farther than an AC/2 can reach. This is a sniper that can move from position to position like no one would believe back in the Succession Wars for something with this kind of reach and punch, and with the torsos unencumbered with weapons, it can bring a point of BA along with it as it flies. The original was concerning, this one is worse.

The Shadow Cat III B sort of mashes the original B and C configs together and comes out with a solid support platform. Four ATM 3s are spread around the arms with a couple of ERMLs and jump jets. The fun part is most of the electronic toys came out to play. A standard active probe and Angel ECM give you nearly the full spectrum of EW capabilities, while a targeting computer makes those ERMLs more dangerous.

Remember how I said most of the configurations are going to look similar? This is the reason it's only most of them: the C isn't a direct parallel to the old configs, although "Enforcer on meth" might be in the right neighborhood. The Prime, A, and B configs all benefit from a certain degree of standoff maneuvers and sniping. The C? Nope. It isn't remotely subtle, either. Doubling down on "wow you must like rolling engine checks for go fast go fast" with a supercharger, this config has a stupidly high speed in short bursts. You're going to need that because your weapons load is an IHLL and an LB 20-X, meaning you really want to move in close. There are no pretensions to doing anything but running right up into someone's personal space and doing terrible things to them. This is when the Nova Cat pounces with a yowl in full "screaming angry cat going for the face" mode, all the claws hanging out. Use terrain to keep from getting picked apart as you stalk your prey, find an opening, set your speed for plaid, get around someone if possible, and ram the guns into their squishy bits before you pull the trigger. Whether you double down on big hole punching or go for a ton of cluster shot, this is not something your enemy wants hunting them.

Given the breadth of roles covered by the configurations, it's hard to generalize too much about the Shadow Cat III, but one point of advice I want to leave operators with is don't overplay your hand with MASC. It's useful and you shouldn't ignore it, but a MASC blowout is going to hurt. Stick to using it in very short bursts when you absolutely need speed now, not as your SOP method of getting around. Other than that, the main thing is to find a range you have an advantage.

Empyrus

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Re: 'Mech of the Week: Shadow Cat III
« Reply #1 on: 11 November 2023, 21:19:44 »
Pretty looking mech, though the mini seems to have awfully huge legs, disproportionally so. Perhaps a matter of perspective?

Unfortunately, aesthetics aside, it isn't very interesting mech. A lot like the Thor II and Vulture III, remove fixed components and add weight saving stuff and/or armor. Sure it ends up a better chassis but also a rather boring one. Certainly seems like the Shadow Cat III will be a solid performer though.

I do appreciate the configurations all being different, covering variety of roles. Could use LRM, SRM- or LB-X-crit seeker, and incendiary (plasma weapons) loadouts but at least there's design space to add those in the future, rather than adding redundant-within-chassis-configs many Omnis usually get.

The LB-20X+iHLL combo does offer nice knockout punch. Simple brutality. Pity it has no extra weapon to substitute for iHLL when starting to heat up. (Think the Nova Cat has a similar configuration. Probably some kind of preference in-universe for Dark Age Nova Cats.)


Will need to dig up the post but i remember someone CGL-affiliated saying the Shadow Cat III exists because none of the MWDA Shadow Cat figures actually have jump ability. Until that was noticed, i'm guessing everyone assumed it was just aesthetic alteration with different weapon configuration, akin to the "Vulture Mk II", ie MechWarrior IV Vulture (aesthetics later retained for the Vulture III but with added endo-steel).

EDIT Finding this took longer than i expected... because i didn't think to search this particular sub-forum.
https://bg.battletech.com/forums/index.php/topic,74050.msg1736278.html#msg1736278
Jymset details the real world origin of the Shadow Cat III.
« Last Edit: 11 November 2023, 21:39:55 by Empyrus »
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MoneyLovinOgre4Hire

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Re: 'Mech of the Week: Shadow Cat III
« Reply #2 on: 12 November 2023, 00:33:38 »
It's a good mech, and I do appreciate the sleek appearance of it.

One thing I would like to note about it is that the A variant is not capable of getting that 9th point of jump movement- it's only got one internal slot open across all three torsos, which means that there's no way to add another Improved Jump Jet, it doesn't have the room.  Plus, the only way you'd be able to get the needed tonnage is by sacrificing a heat sink.  As it is, the Improved Jump Jets only generate a maximum of 4 heat so even on a jumping alpha it's pretty heat efficient.
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VensersRevenge

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Re: 'Mech of the Week: Shadow Cat III
« Reply #3 on: 12 November 2023, 01:54:11 »
Always great to see another 'Mech of the Week article Moonsword! I've always loved the Shadow Cat, but I'm not a huge user of jumpjets, so a version that is more optimised by removing them is something I will have to try at some point.
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Kerfuffin(925)

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Re: 'Mech of the Week: Shadow Cat III
« Reply #4 on: 12 November 2023, 21:55:47 »
This is one of my favorite newer mechs, the B specifically.

It does very well to anchor heavier scout lances, or more likely as a scout hunter-killer in a more reasonably sized battle.
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Moonsword

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Re: 'Mech of the Week: Shadow Cat III
« Reply #5 on: 13 November 2023, 10:04:54 »
This is one of my favorite newer mechs, the B specifically.

It does very well to anchor heavier scout lances, or more likely as a scout hunter-killer in a more reasonably sized battle.

It reminds me a little of the Stealth, which isn't a bad thing at all.

I think my favorite configuration is probably the C, though.  Not because it's good, but because it's crazy.  It feels like something the Smoke Jaguars would do.

Kerfuffin(925)

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Re: 'Mech of the Week: Shadow Cat III
« Reply #6 on: 13 November 2023, 10:56:50 »



It’s thematically the Shadow Cat B, but the swap from LRMs to smaller ATM racks make it much more of a mugger than the original.

Mechs like the C always make me nervous when using them, relying on the boosters and easy enough to whiff. Having generally poor dice will do that I guess.
It reminds me a little of the Stealth, which isn't a bad thing at all.

I think my favorite configuration is probably the C, though.  Not because it's good, but because it's crazy.  It feels like something the Smoke Jaguars would do.
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Re: 'Mech of the Week: Shadow Cat III
« Reply #7 on: 13 November 2023, 13:39:33 »
The A would be a great ride.  Mobile, hard-hitting, long-ranged, survivable, no ammo, it's fantastic.  Top choice.  But if I'm an AFFS jock who took on off the Dragon, or bought one from the Foxes, there's a definite appeal to the "Enforcer on Meth"...
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Re: 'Mech of the Week: Shadow Cat III
« Reply #8 on: 15 November 2023, 13:08:29 »
The A would be a great ride.  Mobile, hard-hitting, long-ranged, survivable, no ammo, it's fantastic.  Top choice.  But if I'm an AFFS jock who took on off the Dragon, or bought one from the Foxes, there's a definite appeal to the "Enforcer on Meth"...

I like the Enforcer on Meth concept.  That version (firing slugs) can easily cause a piloting check, open holes, then fill them with clusters to crit out its own target.  10 total shots feels a little light for the LB-X, but in truth, when does something 45 tons make it through 15 rounds of combat if we added that extra ton? 

The cost to deploy these, both in Alpha Strike and BV2, is pretty high.  Especially looking at the B version with the ATMs:  52 points or 2,152 BV2 is getting up there for a 45 tonner.  I like the TMM it can generate, but it feels like a gamble deploying one in a smaller game.

Kerfuffin(925)

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Re: 'Mech of the Week: Shadow Cat III
« Reply #9 on: 17 November 2023, 05:57:28 »
I like the Enforcer on Meth concept.  That version (firing slugs) can easily cause a piloting check, open holes, then fill them with clusters to crit out its own target.  10 total shots feels a little light for the LB-X, but in truth, when does something 45 tons make it through 15 rounds of combat if we added that extra ton? 

The cost to deploy these, both in Alpha Strike and BV2, is pretty high.  Especially looking at the B version with the ATMs:  52 points or 2,152 BV2 is getting up there for a 45 tonner.  I like the TMM it can generate, but it feels like a gamble deploying one in a smaller game.

The B also pays 6PV for the EWAR setup. Which in most cases is not worth it without battlefield intelligence and fighting a c3 enemy. It certainly wouldn’t be worth the extra in games we play. (I’m pretty sure I’ve used it and there’s no way it used those specials)
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