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Author Topic: Battle Armor of the Week - Infiltrator Mk II  (Read 5428 times)

sillybrit

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Battle Armor of the Week - Infiltrator Mk II
« on: 14 December 2011, 03:09:44 »
Infiltrator Mk II Battle Armor - Field Manual: Federated Suns color insert
Infiltrator Mk II Battle Armor - Technical Readout 3058U page 25



     The Infiltrator Mk II, or Puma as it is also sometimes known by the troops, rates high on the cool and sexy scale for many players due to its mobility, stealth and long range firepower. Although in the same weight class as the various trooper designs, such as the Cavalier, it's one of the best scout suits, arguably bettered only by the Free Worlds League's Achileus Light Battle Armor, with enough combat capability to remain a credible threat on the battlefield.

     Published in Field Manual: Federated Suns, alongside the Cavalier Battle Armor which it forever overshadows, the Infiltrator Mk II is one of those designs that looks good and performs well, although on the latter point it's not without its problems as will be discussed later. The color artwork in the Field Manual meets every expectation for a stealthy design, reminiscent of the F-117 Stealth Fighter with its dark coloration and angular array of flat armor plates, although I also saw a hint of World War One German infantryman with the "gasmask" faceplate and the Pickelhaube spiked helmet. Interestingly, the picture that shows an Infiltrator Mk II standing alongside a Cavalier as they together gun down what look like Kuritan infantry, appears to show the stealthier design as larger than its humbler stable mate. Both are crouched in roughly the same stance, but despite the Cavalier being a little closer, the Puma appears taller.

     According to the Field Manual, the Infiltrator Mk II began development in response to the obvious flaws of its predecessor, the Infiltrator Mk I, which was given its own nickname by the troops to show how well they perceived it: the Waddle. The Federated Commonwealth's intelligence services, both civilian and military, directed their own technical staff to work with NAIS to develop a replacement, with the project beginning in February 3056, although it required a lucky break to help finalize the design. In 3057, the Gray Death Legion stumbled across an old Star League cache that contained some Nighthawk Mark XXI PA(L)s as once used by the SLDF's special operations troops, the Blackhearts. Having been granted a land hold and invested with a noble title, Carlyle couldn't deny the Archon-Prince's request that the suits be handed over, and before the end of the year they were being pull apart and examined by eager NAIS engineers. Just over a year later, the first prototypes of the Infiltrator Mk II began trials and testing continued for another fourteen months, until finally full scale production began in March 3060.

     That timeline would mean that the production Infiltrator Mk II missed the combined SLDF operation to destroy Clan Smoke Jaguar. However, the novels Sword and Fire and Shadows of War clearly show the MI6 Rabid Fox Teams using a suit that doesn't match any known FedCom design, so it's possible that some form of pre-production version was used, although it's also possible that it was an as yet undescribed Light Battle Armor or even some Kages that MIIO had somehow acquired. The unnamed suit does perform a HALO jump, but apparently uses standard parachute packs given the reference to a reserve chute on one suit's chest, and it's described as being both jump capable and apparently having fully articulated armored gloves given that operators wield normal infantry weapons. The weaponry is another area that doesn't match known FedCom suits, with the strong possibility that it's equipped with a Squad Support Weapon Mount, and having configurations that include Light TAGs, Support PPCs and multi-shot SRMs.

     Whether or not it was involved in the destruction of the Smoke Jaguars, the Infiltrator Mk II certainly saw the elephant in the FedCom Civil War and subsequent Jihad, together with the likelihood that it was used in smaller covert operations given that almost half of all the suits that had been built by 3070 had been assigned to the Suns' intelligence agencies. Even with so many being diverted to black ops and despite the losses it had incurred during the Civil War and early years of the Jihad, the Infiltrator Mk II could be found in most Regimental Combat Teams, providing the commanders of those units access to their invaluable scouting prowess. With the survival of Albion Advanced Technologies and the AFFS' even greater enthusiasm for Battle Armor - an enthusiasm that was already approaching their passion for autocannon prior to the creation of Yvonne's new model army - the Infiltrator Mk II is going to be a familiar sight in the ranks of the AFFS.

     The first Medium or larger sized Battle Armor to mount stealth armor, the Infiltrator Mk II was superior in that regard to both its earlier model and the Combine's Kage design, although it cannot compete with the superb Achileus, developed by the League with help from the Word of Blake. The Suns suit does possess one advantage that can make it even harder to hit than the lighter Free Worlds' design, thanks to the installation of an ECM suite, presumably copied from the Nighthawk armor that NAIS personnel had reverse-engineered. Although more commonly used to simply jam various electronic systems, such as C3 links or Artemis IV targeting arrays, under the optional electronic warfare rules in Tactical Operations, ECM can also be used to generate spoof targets called Ghost Targets. When properly tuned, these can result in a targeting penalty that far outweighs the effect of the stealth armor, and in combination they can make the Infiltrator Mk II all but impossible to strike at Long range if moving quickly in cover, and even Medium range can be a problem for any but the most elite gunners or troops with enhanced accuracy weapon systems.

     That stealthiness and the ability to interfere with enemy sensors is vital given that the Infiltrator Mk If’s armor is inadequate by Medium Battle Armor standards. A mere six points of protection means that anything heavier than a large laser will destroy a suit with a single shot, and operators really don't want to have to confront troops equipped with Clan tech, especially the Medium Pulse Laser. If an Infiltrator Mk II squad can keep the target modifiers high, whether by movement, cover, range or skillful use of Ghost Target mode, it can have a powerful battlefield impact, but if the opponent can overcome these obstacles then casualties will rapidly mount. Unfortunately, there's not really much that can be done to solve the issue, since the design has no significant mass to spare, and to increase the protection by a useful amount would require that it be downgraded to Basic Stealth, together with either the removal of the ECM or the exchange of the primary armament for an inferior weapon.

     The Infiltrator Mk II’s main firepower, the Magshot Gauss Rifle, is what perhaps attracts the most interest for many players, and when first fielded it was without compare, although the Jade Falcon's AP Gauss Rifle reclaimed that crown for the Clans towards the end of the Infiltrator Mk II's first decade of service. Although it lacks any bonuses against infantry, the Magshot was intended as a sniping weapon, and it can definitely perform well in that role, with echoes of modern day weapons such as the Barrett M107, an appropriate comparison considering that Federated-Barrett manufactures the Magshot. Lightweight and long ranged, with anti-armor damage equivalent to that of a Machine Gun burst, the Magshot was a perfect partner for the Infiltrator Mk II's stealth capabilities, allowing it to still strike targets while keeping them at a distance to reduce the effectiveness of return fire. Where the weapon does fall short is its bulkiness, being so large that only Assault suits can install them on arm-mounted Modular Weapon Mounts, forcing the designers to use a fixed armament on the Infiltrator Mk II. Of small compensation, the suit does have an Anti-Personnel Weapon Mount on the other arm, but overall this lack of flexibility can be a problem, especially since it denies the design the ability to carry a Light TAG, a very useful configuration for a scout.

     The Magshot mounting also presents another issue, although not one within the game itself. The artwork shows the right-hand Basic Manipulator completely enshrouded by the gauss rifle, a point noted by the suit's write-up, which presumably makes it useless for the purposes of grasping anything else while the weapon is readied for use. That's not a problem with respect to the latest rules for Mechanized Battle Armor, due to the similar manipulator on the other hand, but under older rules and with respect to Anti-'Mech attacks it does create the uncomfortable image of the trooper having to stow the rifle to free both hands. It’s a minor gripe, but one that has always bugged me. The suit's parafoil is another such feature, especially given that its jump jets already provide it with the ability to safely land after launching from an airborne transport. I would imagine that within the universe the parafoil does give the suit the capability to land without the noisy signature of the jets, but every time I see it I can't help but feel that I'd rather put the mass towards a Light TAG or Improved Stealth instead.

     After first being published in Field Manual: Federated Suns, the Infiltrator Mk II appeared in later source- and rulebooks without change, although only with the introduction of the construction rules in Classic BattleTech Compendium did it become apparent that the suit was a Medium design if you reverse-engineered its stats. That was confirmed in Technical Readout 3058U, along with the introduction of the first of the three variants, the Infiltrator Mk II (Sensor). Developed in 3063, the Sensor variant simply swaps the Magshot for a Machine Gun, saving the mass and space necessary to mount an Improved Sensor array. Although useful in flushing out hidden units, the short range of the sensor suite does leave the suit dangerously close to any enemy that it does detect, meaning that the troopers need to exploit every scrap of cover and mobility during their sweeps. That still leaves the threat of ambushes by conventional infantry, but if the Sensor suits do somehow survive, their right-arm Machine Guns do allow for a punishing answering blow before they make their getaway.

     The Old Is The New New section of Technical Readout 3085 gave us the next addition to the Infiltrator MK II's family, with the introduction of the Magnetic variant. A field refit produced in 3071 during the height of the Jihad, the thrice-damned parafoil is finally removed to add magnetic clamps, although the added bulk also required the loss of the secondary weapon mount on the left arm. Allowing Battle Armor to hitch a ride on any friendly vehicle or 'Mech and not just Omni designs, I'm not completely convinced by the modification. Yes, the AFFS had resisted development of OmniMechs, but they have access to plenty of the Combine's designs, along with OmniVehicles and conventional troop carriers such as the superb Cavalry VTOL, so I question just how much this variant was really needed. Yet again, I'd rather beat the drum for a Light TAG, even if the magnetic clamps do allow me to field Battle Armor no matter what 'Mechs and vehicles are being used when I'm roped into a Suns game.

     Three years in-universe after the debut of the Infiltrator MK II (Magnetic) saw the introduction of what is perhaps the oddest of the three variants, although given that it appears in Experimental Technical Readout: Davion, its eccentricities can be forgiven. The Infiltrator Mk II CORAL INTENT started off as a test bed for Mimetic armor reverse-engineered from examples of captured Blakist Purifiers. Although perhaps not the best choice for fast moving Battle Armor like the Infiltrator Mk II and Purifier, Mimetic technology does have some useful advantages over the three Stealth-class armors. The principle benefit is that it's also effective against infantry, which can be a real pain for suits as lightly armored as the Infiltrator Mk II. The stealth effect being independent from range is arguably an improvement, but it does rely on the Battle Armor moving slowly, which then removes Target Movement Modifiers. Still, it's possible to get at least a +3 modifier even at Short range, and if the suit can find some cover this can enhance survivability even more. Unfortunately, the ECM system had to be removed due to weight and space restrictions, and with no improvement to the armor protection, the CORAL INTENT suits are still at risk of destruction by only moderately poweful weapons.

     In addition to losing the ECM system, the experimental suit replaced the Magshot with a Suns' clone of the David Light Gauss Rifle. The fluff entry implies that the Thunderstick should have superior performance, but in game terms it's identical to the League weapon. The key feature of the CORAL INTENT variant isn't its new armor or the downgraded armament, but is instead a late addition to the experimental test bed. Somehow, the Suns managed to acquire prototypes of the Combine's Battle Armor C3 system, although sadly this technology remains experimental. I've had mixed success with the variant as a C3 spotter: the combination of stealthy armor, cover and the automatic penalty for non-infantry attacks against Battle Armor can allow it to survive fairly close to the enemy, but if they possess any form of area effect weaponry it's a trivial exercise to destroy the spotters, while highly mobile opposition can soon leave them behind and enemy ECM can quickly break the link to the rest of the C3 network. When it has worked, it has worked very well, with attempts by the foe to eliminate the suits with direct fire proving frustrating for them, with any move to close the range to increase accuracy only making the enemy easier for other friendly C3-equipped units to hit them in return. It is something of a one-trick pony though and relatively easily countered, so I'd be surprised if the AFFS continue with the variant, even after the C3 system achieves production status.

     The original Infiltrator MK II is a much more enjoyable Battle Armor design to use in my opinion. It can be an unholy terror to other suits if you like to go Battle Armor hunting, even capable of besting the mighty Elemental until the AP Gauss Rifle arrives on the scene. The range and respectable punch of the Magshot makes it great for use against vehicles, and even 'Mechs have to consider them a threat if they've lost an appreciable amount of armor, allowing the gauss rifles to seek out chinks in the protection and score a lucky critical. Conventional infantry can't completely ignore the Infiltrator Mk II, and its ability to snipe them from beyond the range of many infantry weapons might be slow compared to the brutal effectiveness of designs armed with flamers and machine guns, but it will eventually get the job done.

     The ECM suite is almost important as the Magshot in my eyes, not only protecting the suit itself via the use of Ghost Target mode, but also for the evil trick of jamming enemy C3 networks while Swarming a Master-equipped unit. This is one of the situations where I prefer to Swarm rather than perform a Leg Attack, simply because the victim can't run out of the ECM bubble, but sometimes it's safer to just Leg Attack and take the one Turn of jamming before the enemy can flee. Using the ECM to jam enemy Probes can be a tricky game to play. Yes, it'll stop the enemy from identifying exactly what is hidden in the hex, but the area of effect of Battle Armor ECM is such a giveaway that it requires little imagination for the foe to work out an appropriate response, whether that be in the form of artillery or a cheap sacrificial lamb.

     Obviously, the Infiltrator Mk II (Magnetic) operates pretty much the same as the base model, barring the lack of the Anti-Personnel Weapon Mount. That's a relatively trivial loss if using the standard rules for Anti-Personnel attacks, but if allowing the attack to match the stats of the mounted weapon this can be quite significant if the player opts for a M42B, which allows a squad to inflict up to 4 points of damage in addition to the Magshot. The Sensor variant retains the secondary mount, but the replacement of the Magshot is a big loss, in particular the range reduction, and I'd much rather see the suit redesigned to swap the machine gun for a Thunderstick, retaining at least some of the Magshot's performance. Of course, when used in urban combat, the combination of sensors and close range firepower can be useful, particularly against infantry, but even there I'd prefer other weapon choices.

     From the point of view of roleplaying gamers playing spec ops campaigns, it would have been nice if the suit had armored gloves, thereby enabling the operation of any equipment usable by unarmored personnel. That would of course remove the ability to perform Anti-'Mech attacks and Mechanized Battle Armor tactics, although the latter could be retained if the suit was modified to swap only one manipulator. Given the greater latitude for spec ops troops to modify their equipment, this wouldn't be an unreasonable change to make within a RPG campaign and shouldn't be a problem for most missions given that they typically should be sneaking and peaking rather than trying to rip Mechwarriors from their cockpits.

     Overall, the Infiltrator Mk II is a good design, and although its armor is weaker than desirable, its other defensive features can often compensate or even exceed the effect of simply adding more metal. The signature weaponry of the Infiltrator Mk II is simply superb; the Magshot again has its little flaws, but its performance is otherwise so good that there really is no viable alternative, even with the possibility of swapping it for the multirole capability of the Light Recoilless Rifle, an obvious refit for many players. Combined with the other stealthy designs the AFFS added to their Battle Armor arsenal - the Grenadier and equally excellent Hauberk - the Infiltrator Mk II gives the Suns arguably the best selection of Inner Sphere suits to go along with their unbeatable advantage in numbers. With the Suns use of Battle Armor increasing in the wake of the Jihad, the Infiltrator Mk II has a long and shadowy future ahead of it.

Next up:
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ArkRoyalRavager

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Infiltrator Mk II
« Reply #1 on: 14 December 2011, 10:26:31 »
This is the armor that made my day as a Davion player. Not only is the Stealth and ECM benefits nice, it is very good for light plinking as you noted on damaged units. The Mag Clamp version is very useful especially in more limited settings (read: non-Omni), but i have trouble with the iSensors and CI variants. They're too lightly armored for sweeping or spotting and its not good to see them lose against infantry when their heavier mates are tied up by the enemy. For its weight, i would be very happy to see the BC3 appear in the Grenadier and Hauberk suits. I think the Hauberk could lose the small laser for the BC3 and become brutal with its LRM attacks, letting the Mechs or vees spot in return, while not making the sacrifices the current XTRO BC3 battlesuits have had to do.

On a minor note, it looks a lot like the Fallout T45d power armor and some slight similarities with T51b armor.




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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Infiltrator Mk II
« Reply #2 on: 14 December 2011, 15:06:39 »
My first ever experience with battle armor was fielding this suit. At the time, the light armor is well offset by 9 hex range of the MagShot. In some way I think the Infiltrator became the "light" suit gold standard, just as the Elemental is the medium suit and Kanazuchi is the assault suit gold standard.

Standards that have since been surpassed but it was the suit to beat for a long time.


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Jellico

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Infiltrator Mk II
« Reply #3 on: 14 December 2011, 15:44:48 »
The Infiltrator II was at the nexus of some design choices by the game designers at the time that resulted in what could be called an overpowered suit.

In a world of battle armor armed with 3 hex weapons they gave it a 9 hex weapon where no others existed. At the same time they gave it stealth armor which does bad things to 3 hex weapons. The result is brutal in a way no other suit of its generation is.

Interestingly its BV remained low, for very good reasons. The Magshot has no firepower. The 2 point plinker meant that high firepower SRM platforms like the Logeinus(SP) and Elemental dragged in huge penalties while the Infiltrator didn't. Oddly enough, when not fighting BA this is an accurate representation of the suit's capabilities.

Ian Sharpe

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Infiltrator Mk II
« Reply #4 on: 15 December 2011, 12:27:01 »
Their nastiest use against me was 0/* spotters for IDF LRM fire.  Getting hit with 3-4 SRM-4s while trying to get past them was no fun at all, and since they were in woods, even my Clan MPLs(3/4 g/p) were not great at clearing them out.  As a long time Fa Shih user, its hard not to love/hate the Magnetic variant. 

Taurevanime

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Infiltrator Mk II
« Reply #5 on: 16 December 2011, 14:01:33 »
I think it is rather telling with how good this suit is and how little room for improvement there is by just how few comments have been made in comparison to the thread about the Fenrir, that was posted at the same time.

Never having delved into battlearmor construction I had no idea that a light-TAG would be so light and still fit on the original Infiltrator Mk. II without much modification. It is the type of suit that is just begging for it.

With that said. Now that we have remote sensors and the like, would that actually be possible to fit on one of these suits? Since you pointed out that the suit is a little too thin-skinned to act as the sensor itself.

Ian Sharpe

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Infiltrator Mk II
« Reply #6 on: 16 December 2011, 14:35:07 »
I'd probably drop the ECM and parafoil for mag clamps and a TAG, and up the armour, proofing it against Clan medium lasers.  The ECM is nice but of somewhat limited value for me without ghost targets in play, and only slightly useful for ECCM purposes.

Jellico

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Infiltrator Mk II
« Reply #7 on: 16 December 2011, 17:46:41 »
I think it is rather telling with how good this suit is and how little room for improvement there is by just how few comments have been made in comparison to the thread about the Fenrir, that was posted at the same time.


And thank goodness for that. I am here for BAotW. Not How to Make a Custom Suit.

sillybrit

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Infiltrator Mk II
« Reply #8 on: 16 December 2011, 18:08:42 »
That will be a different article, assuming we decide to go ahead with it.  :)

Taurevanime

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Infiltrator Mk II
« Reply #9 on: 16 December 2011, 19:51:23 »
And thank goodness for that. I am here for BAotW. Not How to Make a Custom Suit.
Well it is also telling of that people can't think of much that is wrong with the suit.

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Infiltrator Mk II
« Reply #10 on: 26 November 2013, 01:14:08 »
Well it is also telling of that people can't think of much that is wrong with the suit.
Hmm. How did I miss this?
I can think of lots of things wrong with the Infiltrator.
Low armour.
No firepower
Poor compromise between Claw and Gloves.

What the Infiltrator does well is kill other battle armour. Or at least it did before other options to the Magshot came along. Perhaps it would be better to say that there is not much wrong with the Magshot?
The Infiltrator is not a good choice against 'Mechs and no better than other suits against tanks. Infantry will ignore the plinky Magshot and stealth armour and slaughter it. But because the Infiltrator Mk. II had the right weapons and stealth armour at the time to dominate the first and second generation of battle armour it has a good reputation.


Anyway. Zombie rant aside...
I am here to talk about the new Infiltrator Mk. II (Marine).
I am not quite sure of the rationale behind this suit. I would argue that a Cavalier would be a better base to build a marine on, but who is asking?
The Infiltrator is a very solid marine suit. It does this by getting good and gamy with its choice of equipment. Cutting Torch, Mag Clamps, Space Operations Adaption. These add up to give Infiltrator very high marine points for an Inner Sphere suit. In 0G it is nothing special. Plenty of suits have similar thrust and fuel. The stealth armour is useless in all marine environments which is why I consider the more heavily armoured Cavalier to be a better starting point. I also think a simple machine gun would have been a better option than the Clantech Micro Pulse Laser. It may even have allowed for some real claws on the Infiltrator.

So, very good suit for its job. But it could have been better.

sillybrit

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Infiltrator Mk II
« Reply #11 on: 27 November 2013, 02:08:10 »
Jumping in on the Marine here. I'd long been enamoured of the idea of a marine version of the Infiltrator Mk II and I finally got a chance to do a canon version, albeit one not quite like I'd expected.

First addressing the choice of the Infiltrator Mk II instead of the Cavalier, that's purely because I leant towards a spec ops concept for the Suns marine suit, rather than a generic trooper concept - think SBS/SEALs rather than RM/USMC - and that's the realm of the Puma rather than the Cavalier.

As for the design itself, initially I was aiming for a straight swap of the Magshot for a LRR, the manipulators upgraded to Battle Claws, the ECM swapped for Space Ops Adaptation, and Reflective armor instead of Standard Stealth. The latter was in part because energy weapons are probably more common for space operations and also to hook into the new 3145 tech, but jymset wanted a few changes, namely to minimze the differences with existing Infiiltrator Mk II variants.

With that in mind, the next version considered was effectively a modification of the Sensor variant, with elements of the Magnetic variant, namely removing the Parafoil in favor of the Magnetic Clamps. Exchanging one APWM for a Cutting Torch was seen as a trivial change, while the big modification is the removal of the ECM for the Space Ops Adapation. The Improved Sensors had to be removed due to space issues, freeing up a lot of mass, although either the remaining APWM or the newly added Cutting Torch were also considered for removal. With an armor change not available, I did push for heavier manipulators to use the mass, but jymset countered with the idea of the Micro Pulse Laser instead. Given that cosmetically I prefer lasers for space ops, plus in-universe it would also scratch the Suns' high tech itch, it was therefore too tempting to pass up, even if not the most optimal choice. As I recall, we briefly discussed the Bearhunter instead, which would also satisfy the Davion's love of dakka, but the Bearhunter's short comings quickly nixed that idea.

The choice of the Magnetic Clamps, Cutting Torch, Pulse Laser and Space Ops Adaptation were all deliberate, as they all add to the Marine Point Value. They were a blatent decision to near-optimize the variant for those optional rules - we could have optimized, but that's the job for the fans' custom designs!

As Jeliico noted, the stealth armor doesn't help much in space, but like true marines, the Infiltrator Mk II (Marine) was also intended to be used in non-shipboard roles, such as landing zone pathfinder missions. The Magnetic Clamps would also allow the suit to hitch a ride on any available Mech or vehicle, and would even allow mixed units alongside Magnetic variants that would provide the non-Omni Mechanized BA capability with both anti-armor and anti-infantry firepower.

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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Infiltrator Mk II
« Reply #12 on: 27 November 2013, 12:05:49 »
For the record, Jymset's limitations imposed on Sillybrit's design are based on the limitations we set down for Old is New designs back in 3085. Variants were something that had to be something relatively easy to do, so things like total engine swaps, structure changes and armor changes were greatly limited.

The goal was not to make completely new factory units, the goal was to show how tinkering brought about new commonly used variants.
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Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Infiltrator Mk II
« Reply #13 on: 27 November 2013, 14:31:29 »
And Welshman taught me well. Even though we did not have any of the 3085ONN restrictions on 3145NTNU variants, years spent in Welshman's school of reality checks (TM) have made me rather reactionary about going all l33t on many designs.

(Not that 3145NTNU doesn't have some crazy units... but we'll just blame Paul for those. Yes. That works.)

Kudos to sillybrit for putting up with me time and again.
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