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Author Topic: Fighter of the Week, Issue #007 (repost) - Sabutai  (Read 12653 times)

Trace Coburn

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Fighter of the Week, Issue #007 (repost) - Sabutai
« on: 07 February 2011, 03:31:42 »
Subatai - 75t, TRO3055
Originally posted 29 Dec. 2004.

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


  I really, really want to love the Sabutai, folks.  I do.  The name makes it sound badass, and the looks match; it has the same engine as the Visigoth and Kirghiz (making them the only three OmniFighters to share that engine that way - a major logistical SNAFU to my way of thinking); it carries a crapload of very, very big guns; and it's a product of everybody's favourite 'villains' the Smoke Jaguar, who were never shy about kicking somebody's ass if they felt like it.  Unfortunately, it suffers from the same flaws as many other Smoke Jag designs that could otherwise have been instant classics, mainly because of that very same Smoke Jaguar mentality of 'scream and leap'.

  Even the basic spaceframe is a disappointment.  A 6/9 thrust curve gives the Sabutai the edge over most heavier designs; unfortunately, the small fuel capacity, only three tons, makes sustained combat all but impossible on internal reserves alone, and the Sabutai can ill-afford to lose its mobility by carrying external tanks.  The 300XL engine that makes that thrust curve possible seems to come with fifteen DHS as standard (which actually makes a certain degree of logistical sense), making the Sabutai's organic dissipation capacity quite healthy, but the armour... are the Smoke Jaguar constitutionally incapable of properly armouring their designs?  Twelve tons of ferro-aluminium makes for a great degree of free pod-space, yes, but it also leaves the Sabutai horribly vulnerable - even if your nose is (just) proof against the standard C/ERML, when your wings are subject to one-shot TACs by a dinky little SRM-4 and your tail to a measly Spheroid medium laser, you're doing something very seriously wrong.  About the only bright spot on the spaceframe is the overwhelming amount of pod-space: forty-four-point-five tons of room for all those beautiful guns.  Given how that amount of room was saved, though, I'm not sure it's such a bargain.  :-\

  The Sabutai Prime is probably the best 'utility' loadout.  A nose-mounted Gauss rifle is a good place to start - I'm not too crazy about having only one ton of ammo for it, but given this thing's armour profile and perennial fuel shortages, loitering too long probably wouldn't be the best way to extend your lifespan anyway.  Each wing supports an ERPPC and an LPL, making for much energy-based pain, and the warload is rounded out by a trio of token ERSLs, one in the nose and two aft, in case someone tries their luck in a knife-fight.  Careful bracket fire is needed with this load-out - even with an additional six DHS, using both the PPCs and the LPLs at once does Really Bad Things to your heat-scale - but it can dish it out at all ranges.  If you have to use a Sabutai for air-to-air combat, this is probably your best bet.

  Obviously the spiritual descendant of the Xerxes I covered as my inaugural article, the Sabutai-A has 'Dropper Chopper'/'Ground Attack' written all over it.  Armament consists of an LB-20X in the nose with three tons of ammo, UAC/20s in each wing with a ton of ammo each (WTF?), a trio of ERSLs for self-defence when (not if) you go Winchester, and a pair of ERMLs aft for the riff-raff.  In air-strikes, those autocannons are enough to pulverise even the heaviest of assault 'Mechs - stagger 'em and open 'em up with the Ultras, then watch the LB's proximity-fused shells (that's Cluster ammo, for any non-fluff-thinkers) do lots and lots of crit-seeking.  A bombing pass with the maximum fifteen tons of external ordnance (albeit at 3/5) wouldn't do much for the other guy's enjoyment of life, either.  However, it lacks enough dissipation capacity to use all three cannons constantly, so watching your heat-scale is a must.  (Interestingly, by the time sustained three-gun fire gets you into truly dangerous areas of the heat-scale, you'll have already completely depleted your UAC/20 magazines and won't be able to overheat again.  Running yourself out of bullets as a way to restore combat effectiveness - does anyone else think this is a little self-defeating?  :D)

  All I can say about the Sabutai-B is "holy multiple independent warheads, Batman!"  Five LRM-20s, one in the nose and two in each wing, with a Narc launcher for that lovely, lovely +2 Missile Hits bonus (though only in the air-strike role, dammit!), backed by a nose-mounted LPL and an ERSL for when your ammo runs out and an aft-mounted MPL to discourage the lightweights?  [shudder]  Yeeeeee!  Given the rarity of AMS in canon designs, this one has the potential to be a giant-slayer.  Sadly, like the -A it's let down by some really daft ammunitioning choices (twelve Narc rounds, but only six salvos per LRM launcher?  When does a 6/9 ASF get a chance to deploy more than six Narc pods per sortie? ???)  There's also a TAG module in the nose, presumably for guiding LGBs, Arrow-IVs or semi-guided LRMs, and an ECM in the tail for spoofing Artemis-IV systems.  Manifestly a fire-support configuration, the Sabutai-B can make life truly miserable for other fighters before the merge; it also makes a nasty complement to other fighters in the anti-shipping role, standing back and pelting the target with clouds of missiles while the other guys get into knife-fighting range.  Alpha-striking isn't a good idea, but you can run all five LRM racks constantly for as long as your ammo lasts, then use the large pulser for self-defence on your way home for more missiles - if they're needed.  It's also worth noting that this is one of the few canon OmniFighter configs with an electronic-warfare suite, and the value of its ECCM in reducing the EW protection of hostile Large Craft should not be ignored.

  In the Sabutai-C we have the requisite flashbulb config - which is not quite as horrible as it might have been.  Twenty-two(!!!) additional double heat-sinks give a staggering amount of dissipation capacity... and this thing needs every bit of it and more, since the nose mounts quad ERLLs and an ERSL, and triple ERMLs are set into each wing.  Ignoring that near-useless ERSL, a full alpha-strike puts you at +4 heat but puts a staggering amount of throw-weight down-range - given that each Sabutai-C has a nose bay worth 4 Capital damage, and 2 Capital per wing-bay, this load-out makes a Star of Sabutais a truly fearful anti-shipping weapon, and being strafed by even a single Sabutai-C is enough to bring a tear to the eye of the heaviest assault 'Mech.  You have to be careful of your heat, though, and since you lack stern weapons, you need escorts and/or good teamwork to avoid getting plinked to death.

  Finally, Sabutai-Delta is the 'new' configuration of '55U, mounting more recent technology than its fellows.  Specifically, it's a variation on the Charlie that packs FOUR(! :o) Heavy Large Lasers (and a single ERSL for the 'and Zoidberg' factor ::)) into its nose, backing that up with twin ERMLs in each wing and twenty-four additional DHS.  Unmistakably an anti-Shipping loadout (for what the heck else would need this sort of firepower?), the Sabutai-D has enough dissipation capacity to fire all of those nose-guns (though nothing else), meaning that a full Star of them can smack a 'Ship with a nose-bay of 64 Capital damage every turn.  :o  Folks, even with the TW limitations on the critting ability of ASF flights, there are battleships that are scared of this kind of treatment!
  Muuummmmmmy, make the bad man stop!  :o

  Unlike the Visigoth, which held clear margins of superiority over its IS counterparts during Operation REVIVAL, the Sabutai would actually have found itself outclassed in several ways.  The Shilones and Slayers it would have met in the FRR and Draconis Combine could match its speed and agility, ran much cooler, and had larger fuel reserves, meaning that any Subatai that tried to go home for more gas was going to get an alpha-strike or five up its tailpipe before it could get clear - not to mention the Slayer's having thicker armour(!).  The shock and awe set up by the power and reach of Clan weaponry would have been daunting at first, but the IS pilots would have learned quickly how to offset those advantages.

  Sabutais give you near-obscene firepower, but they have to deliver it quickly, so pick your target, concentrate your firepower to take it out fast, then go home for more gas and bullets.  Escorts to keep the interceptors off you en route to target are a must, and once you've done your job, go home.  Never, ever let your formation be split, either - isolated Sabutai Points are easy meat for enemy interceptors or dogfighters; enemy aerofighters should be left to the escorting interceptors and Visigoths if at all possible, but if not, fire-support tactics and target-of-opportunity attacks are the best bet in aerial combat.

  On the defensive side of the coin, Sabutais are bullies: they love dishing out punishment, but they're not so keen on taking it, and they really, really hate getting into fair and/or long fights.  They have short legs, so use their poor endurance against them: tie them up with multiple opponents and try to run their tanks dry, then give 'em the good news as they try to go home for more gas.  ALWAYS respect their firepower, but swarm 'em under and try to get in behind 'em.  Once the furball begins, light fighters like the Sholagar getting in behind Sabutais can cause significant grief before they're smacked - remember those soft wings and really weak tail armour? - and anything more formidable is going to be a real (and literal) pain in the ass.

  [VARIANT PROPOSAL(S) REDACTED] All proposed fan-variants, including my own, belong in the corresponding "FotW Workshop" thread: http://www.classicbattletech.com/forums/index.php?topic=1294.0 .

  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.  ;)

Moonsword

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Re: Fighter of the Week, Issue #007 (repost) - Sabutai
« Reply #1 on: 07 February 2011, 09:55:40 »
There is only one excuse for a Sabutai, and that is the guns.  The Visigoth is a much better generalist fighter.  Honestly, it's sort of a Lucifer IIC in some respects, although the armor's worse considering the threat environment it lives in.  (Keep in mind that in a world where you live cheek and jowl with the Visigoth, the Batu, and other technological terrors, 6/9 is not particularly fast.)

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Re: Fighter of the Week, Issue #007 (repost) - Sabutai
« Reply #2 on: 16 February 2011, 13:12:26 »
  Twelve tons of ferro-aluminium makes for a great degree of free pod-space, yes, but it also leaves the Sabutai horribly vulnerable - even if your nose is (just) proof against the standard C/ERML, when your wings are subject to one-shot TACs by a dinky little SRM-4 and your tail to a measly Spheroid medium laser, you're doing something very seriously wrong.

Well, the SRM-4 nowadays do damage in 5-point clusters, so the wings are safer, but the rear armor...one lousy point from being safe from IS MLs and cluster weapons. One lousy point!  [metalhealth]

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Moonsword

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Re: Fighter of the Week, Issue #007 (repost) - Sabutai
« Reply #3 on: 16 February 2011, 13:37:22 »
Well, the SRM-4 nowadays do damage in 5-point clusters, so the wings are safer, but the rear armor...one lousy point from being safe from IS MLs and cluster weapons. One lousy point!  [metalhealth]

The wings are still vulnerable to IS MPLs and XMPLs (not that you see many of those, well, ever, let alone in the air).  I'd be interested to see the outcome of a duel between a Sabutai and one of the ERML/MPL Sparrowhawks.

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Re: Fighter of the Week, Issue #007 (repost) - Sabutai
« Reply #4 on: 22 April 2011, 02:34:33 »
The wings are still vulnerable to IS MPLs and XMPLs (not that you see many of those, well, ever, let alone in the air).  I'd be interested to see the outcome of a duel between a Sabutai and one of the ERML/MPL Sparrowhawks.

If the said "duel" starts off head to head? I would not want to be that SPH driver.

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Re: Fighter of the Week, Issue #007 (repost) - Sabutai
« Reply #5 on: 22 April 2011, 07:53:42 »
I'm not under any impression the Sparrowhawk is likely to win, I just want to see how big a chunk he can take off the Sabutai if he manages to get inside the other guy's turning radius.

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Re: Fighter of the Week, Issue #007 (repost) - Sabutai
« Reply #6 on: 24 December 2011, 19:55:00 »
Next on our list of two-fers.

Presumably, nether the E nor the X could be said to be both "thief and archer" …  O:-)
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sillybrit

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Re: Fighter of the Week, Issue #007 (repost) - Sabutai
« Reply #7 on: 24 December 2011, 20:13:17 »
The E suffers from the usual problem with Clan ASFs mounting HAGs: you can get more firepower using less mass by switching to LRMs, but mounting those would make it too much like the X.

The X can be described in three words: Macross Missile Spam.

At least between the pair they mount different electronics (not that it really matters with Omnis, but if you're sticking with canon it does matter), with the E being able to assist shipping strikes and the X able to better withstand fighter attacks.

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Re: Fighter of the Week, Issue #007 (repost) - Sabutai
« Reply #8 on: 24 December 2011, 21:56:06 »
ASF HAGs don't get a bonus against other aircraft, right? If they did, they might have a point, but otherwise their only (slim and rarely used) advantage over LRMs was ability to use TCs, and now that Artemis V is a thing...
« Last Edit: 25 December 2011, 00:09:44 by Diplominator »

RedDevilCG

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Re: Fighter of the Week, Issue #007 (repost) - Sabutai
« Reply #9 on: 24 December 2011, 23:11:11 »
Just curious.  Are these articles written with the idea that vectored movement is not being used?  Seams to me that being able to point in any direction makes lower thrust not as much of a problem, as long as you can keep the pointy end of your fighter aimed at your opponents then really it's just initiative that matters, not turning power...

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Re: Fighter of the Week, Issue #007 (repost) - Sabutai
« Reply #10 on: 25 December 2011, 01:49:36 »
would someone like to inform this sadly out of date player exactly what the E and X variants carry?


also, i would expect a common 'feildmod' of the -A config would pull two of the ERSL's for an extra ton of UAC20 ammo, and reassigning the third ton of LB20X ammo to the UAC's as well. giving each gun a full 10 shots. though i'd imagine cluster ammo would only be carried when mech hunting..

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Re: Fighter of the Week, Issue #007 (repost) - Sabutai
« Reply #11 on: 25 December 2011, 02:15:43 »
would someone like to inform this sadly out of date player exactly what the E and X variants carry?


also, i would expect a common 'feildmod' of the -A config would pull two of the ERSL's for an extra ton of UAC20 ammo, and reassigning the third ton of LB20X ammo to the UAC's as well. giving each gun a full 10 shots. though i'd imagine cluster ammo would only be carried when mech hunting..

The Echo config has an Active Probe in the nose for cutting through ECM.  Each Wing has a HAG-40 and a Heavy Medium Laser, with the HAGs sharing seven tons of ammo for a total of 21 shots.  The 'hanging half ton' is used for a Heavy Small Laser facing after.  It got decent firepower at range, and up close it can inflict a total of 84 points of damage, which will smash many a small fighter with one volley.

The X-Ray configuration used the Artemis V FCS, marrying it to 5 LRM-20s (one in the nose, and two in each wing) with 9 tons of missile ammo providing 54 shots total.  The aft arc has an ECM suite to make the Sabutai harder to hit and a Medium Pulse Laser to ward off any tailgaters.

Both are decent but the missile storm of the X makes it the favorite in many eyes.
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sillybrit

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Re: Fighter of the Week, Issue #007 (repost) - Sabutai
« Reply #12 on: 25 December 2011, 02:38:56 »
It's also worth noting that the E config added two extra tons of fuel, bringing it up to the Inner Sphere standard and making it long legged by Clan standards.

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Re: Fighter of the Week, Issue #007 (repost) - Sabutai
« Reply #13 on: 25 December 2011, 04:57:06 »
It looks to me like the E is intended for patrol and first response, being specialized in thinning out incoming light ASFs. The active probe is useful if those lights are part of a force that includes dropships. Those HAGs are likely to disintegrate a light fighter that they hit. I like this config much better than the corresponding Jagatai E, since the bigger HAGs are more worthwhile.

The X, well be saw a quite similar missile support config in the Jagatai X. The only thing that needs to be added is that those damage numbers are missing the boost they get from Artemis V.



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RedDevilCG

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Re: Fighter of the Week, Issue #007 (repost) - Sabutai
« Reply #14 on: 25 December 2011, 16:22:39 »
The HAGs are too bad are they?  The HAG20 is basically the same as the LRM20, but with less heat and acts as if it has Artemis IV at short range.  The ammo per ton is the same too.

Though the tonnage of the HAG is double that of the LRM20   :-\

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Re: Fighter of the Week, Issue #007 (repost) - Sabutai
« Reply #15 on: 25 December 2011, 18:31:33 »
… But are point defense-proof.
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Re: Fighter of the Week, Issue #007 (repost) - Sabutai
« Reply #16 on: 25 December 2011, 18:50:54 »
And look how many ASFs mount viable point defense.

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Re: Fighter of the Week, Issue #007 (repost) - Sabutai
« Reply #17 on: 26 December 2011, 03:06:09 »
… And if anybody ever came to their senses and let Omnis Omni, that might change.

But for now: Wipe the smerk off the face of a DS full of AMSs.

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« Last Edit: 26 December 2011, 03:10:28 by Goose »
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RedDevilCG

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Re: Fighter of the Week, Issue #007 (repost) - Sabutai
« Reply #18 on: 26 December 2011, 03:44:14 »
Actually... why in the world do ASFs not mount AMS as default?!

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Re: Fighter of the Week, Issue #007 (repost) - Sabutai
« Reply #19 on: 26 December 2011, 12:18:15 »
… And if anybody ever came to their senses and let Omnis Omni, that might change.

But for now: Wipe the smerk off the face of a DS full of AMSs.

[Demoman]…Prancing about with your head full of eyeballs…[/Demoman]

Point to Goose.  With AMS increasing in use on Dropships, HAG's fire being immune to AMS is a distinct advantage for them.  Moreover, HAGs are exclusive to the Clans, giving Clan fighters an advantage when attacking Dropships.  While the Inner Sphere does have the Silver Bullet Gauss Rifle, it weighs 50% more than a HAG-20 and does less damage per shot.
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Re: Fighter of the Week, Issue #007 (repost) - Sabutai
« Reply #20 on: 26 December 2011, 13:31:54 »
The problem is that neither LRMs nor HAGs are at their best when used against DropShips. There's basically little hope of hitting a DropShip at Long range, and Medium can be chancy, so the mass both weapon systems have used to achieve their extended range is effectively wasted against DropShips. Anti-shipping configurations and designs get far more bang for their buck by concentrating on Short to Medium range weapons. In addition, those 5-point clusters inflicted by both weapons aren't going to be achieving threshold hits against DropShips (barring optional Advanced rules), which is another point against their use in anti-shipping strikes.

Sure, when forced into the anti-shipping role in an AMS-heavy environment, LRMs are going to perform even worse on an individual weapon basis than HAGs, but the ability to degrade ATM/LRM/SRM attacks is effectively an afterthought for AMS on the aerospace battlefield, where capital-scale missiles, primarily nuclear-armed missiles, are a much higher priority target. More importantly, the lighter mass of the Clan LRM compared to the HAG means that you can mount more weapons, and against all but the heaviest of AMS defenses it's possible for the LRM-armed fighter to inflict more damage overall than the HAG-armed fighter.

Actually... why in the world do ASFs not mount AMS as default?!

Because you'd need to mount multiple AMS to significantly degrade a missile attack, and if the enemy launches more than one missile salvo at you, then you're seriously out of luck, because AMS mounted on ASFs can only engage a single attack per Turn.

For most ASFs, the mass needed to install AMS would be better used for more armor and/or ECM, or to improved offensive capability instead. The main exception would be Large Craft escorts, where they can provide an extra layer of anti-capital missile defense, or perhaps anti-shipping escorts - Wild Weasel-like designs - that could maybe help a strike break through defensive fire by capital missiles.

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Re: Fighter of the Week, Issue #007 (repost) - Sabutai
« Reply #21 on: 26 December 2011, 14:11:16 »
AMS isn't that heavy, and on an Omni you can't install more armour on pod space.....

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Re: Fighter of the Week, Issue #007 (repost) - Sabutai
« Reply #22 on: 26 December 2011, 14:34:30 »
I assume you missed the "significantly degrade" and "ECM, or to improved offensive capability".

Under TW rules, a single AMS is going to reduce a LRM attack by an average of 3.5 points, and that's just a single attack per Turn. That's not much of a payback for at least 1.5 tons, assuming you don't have to add an extra heatsink as well.

For non-Omnis, 24 to 29 extra points of armor can mean the difference between armor facings that can be thresholded or not.

Assuming an Omni, that same 1.5t means an extra ERSL plus DHS, or being able to make some other offensive enhancement, or being able to install ECM with 0.5t spare. The -1 hit penalty potentially inflicted by the latter on all non-Large Craft can effect every attack and not just a single LRM salvo, typically offering a far more useful defensive benefit.

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Re: Fighter of the Week, Issue #007 (repost) - Sabutai
« Reply #23 on: 26 December 2011, 14:52:39 »
So basically, the AMS rules are garbage is what you're saying.

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Re: Fighter of the Week, Issue #007 (repost) - Sabutai
« Reply #24 on: 26 December 2011, 15:01:26 »
So basically, the AMS rules are garbage is what you're saying.  :'(

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Re: Fighter of the Week, Issue #007 (repost) - Sabutai
« Reply #25 on: 26 December 2011, 15:22:02 »
With respect to dealing with standard scale missiles (I forgot to include RLs in the list above), then no, they're not particularly useful. Of course, like many inefficient systems there's going to be those situations where the AMS will be the difference that allows a unit to survive, but overall those situations are few and far between. Overall, I'd much rather mount enough LRMs to match the firepower of a HAG, then use the remaining mass to install as many ERMLs as the ASF could cram in to deal with the anti-shipping strike requirement.

Even with Large Craft, which can more easily mount large AMS bays, and more importantly can fire them multiple times per Turn, the ability to degrade standard scale missile attacks is a small benefit, considering that they also have to deal with the various flavors of standard (and capital) PPC, laser, Gauss, & AC.

As noted above, AMS' real role is to defeat, or at least degrade, capital missile attacks. With nukes in the air (vacuum?), this can mean the difference between a survivable attack or a one-shot kill on a DropShip or smaller WarShip.

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Re: Fighter of the Week, Issue #007 (repost) - Sabutai
« Reply #26 on: 26 December 2011, 21:05:01 »
Great Article, Trace.

How does the Sabutai stack up when it someone is using the Squadron rules from StratOps?

Does its glaring armor weakness still stick out like it does as a individual fighter? I don't have my book in front of me, but I'm more more knowledgeable with the old AT2R rules than current ones.
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