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Author Topic: ProtoMech of the Week: Centaur  (Read 3682 times)

GreekFire

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ProtoMech of the Week: Centaur
« on: 22 January 2015, 13:16:12 »
From TRO:3060

The Centaur is a bit of an oddity in the hyper-specialized world of ProtoMechs. A true generalist, it can fill nearly any roll on the battlefield - and can do most of them fairly well. This would make them a common and widespread ProtoMech, with the Fire Mandrills and Snow Ravens the most faithful users. It is worth noting that the Society took quite a liking to the chassis as well, and fielded no fewer than three different varieties during the Wars of Reaving. Let’s take a look.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The standard Centaur was another spawn of Jaguar ingenuity - Clan Hell’s Horses had to be pissed when they realized the Smoked Kittens had stolen one of the most recognizable mythological esquine names for their ProtoMech. I suspect this is the reason why:
a) The Horses adopted ProtoMechs at all, and..
b) Why they bothered developping their own ProtoMechs - all in order to culminate in their own ultimate Horsething: the Svartalfa.
If anyone has ever fielded a mixed Trinary made up of Buraqs, Centaurs, Svartalfas, Thunder Stallions and Balius’ for maximum HORSEpower, let me know. I’ll point you in the direction of a /mlp/ forum.


That said, the Centaur is *sort of* lightly armored for its size. At 74% the theoretical maximum, its armor passes a few important thresholds - being able to tank an ER Medium laser to the torso is a definite plus. The biggest downside is in the legs; that same ER Medium will blast through them, and even 5-point hits go internal. A single point of extra armor (perhaps shifted down from the head) would have done it a world of good. Its speed - 6/9, same as the Stormcrow - does give it an easily achieved +3 movement modifier for some added survivability. The weight savings are gracefully shoved towards no fewer than three different weapon systems: a SRM-2 rack found in the torso with 10 shots, a LRM-3 with 8 turns of firepower, and a single ER Micro Laser located in the Main Gun.

If you’ve been reading my PotW series so far, you’ll know how disdainful I am of the ER Micro Laser. If not, newsflash: it’s a terrible weapon. And in this scenario, a (Light) Machine Gun would have been so much better. I don’t see how giving the Centaur even more flexibility would have done anything except emphasize its generalist nature.

The SRM-2 and LRM-3 are both solid decisions, though. They both have enough ammo to dabble  in alternate munition funtimes; since we’re lacking any A-I firepower, I’d recommend taking a few shots of Inferno SRMs for that conventional-killing oomph. The LRMs aren’t going to do anything on their own, but really, the Centaur is all teamwork. It’s a Proto that loudly screams critseeker, with no fewer than four possible hits per machine able to land per turn. Once you start playing with full Points, you’ll have five ranged plinks, 10 short-ranged hits, and 5 brawling-range cuts to tear into your enemy (plus Frenzies, for what they’re worth). Centaurs certainly aren’t Rocs, but they bring something completely different to the table: support. Using them with Stormcrows is actually a great idea - many Stormcrow configs have big boomsticks that can punch enough holes for the Centaurs to unceremoniously ravage. Battle Cobras, Shadow Hawk IICs, or Novas are also attractive partners for the cute lil’ Proto.

The 192 BV price tag is a little bit expensive for the amount of armor it carries. If you choose to use it, remember that its flexibility is its strength. Don’t suicide it into a brawl, and don’t engage conventionally. I’d highly suggest going all-out with Thunder or Smoke rounds for the LRMs, allowing them to help your force out a lot more then their plinks normally would. This choice also makes it easier to close in and use the SRMs and ER Micro laser, where you can critseek and lay waste to weaker targets with greater abandon.


The Centaur 2 completely ditches all long-ranged firepower in favor of doubling down on its short-ranged punch. That translates to the LRM-3 getting junked, with the ER Micro Laser mega morphin’ to a Heavy Small Laser. A single point of armor is added to the Main Gun, which...hardly does anything at all. Bleh.


This “upgrade” brutally shunts the Centaur 2 into the ambusher category. It can no longer meaningfully contribute at range, but it can now punch its own holes when its up close and personal. Unlike the Minotaur XP/P2 that we took a look at little while ago, the Centaur 2 *does* have the speed to engage with its Heavy Small Laser. Pop out at a target, deal as much damage as possible, and fade away until its safe to engage again. Aim for the easiest possible target every turn is key - Heavy Smalls are difficult to use when combined with your standard 4/5 ProtoMech pilot.

A BV of 154 makes it a heck of a lot cheaper than the standard model, but an improvement to gunnery (down to 3) will bring it back up to 184 (and with the +1 to-hit of the Heavy Small Laser, this is something you should probably at least think of doing). It really is the “cheapest” true combat Proto you can buy, though, which does give it some use in certain forces.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The Centaur 3 is the neigh-required “what the flip” variant that every ProtoMech seems to have. Armor is slashed into, and what remains does a terrible job at protecting it against most important thresholds. All of the weaponry it previously had is thrown out of the Window IIC, all in an attempt to field something truely impressive: an ER Medium Laser. At least this gun is put into the Torso insstead of being carried in a Main Gun.


This ProtoMech, in my opinion, is a bit deceptive; it looks terrible at first glance, with weak armor just begging for a single hit to wipe this ProtoMech and its ER Medium off of the table. But there is a niche for it: urban combat. Its weak armor isn’t a big deal when it’s hiding in buildings all day long, while the limited angles of engagement easily bypass the  arc restrictions enforced by the lack of a Main Gun. And the 6/9 speed works well within the confines of urban terrain; the Centaur 3 should be able to move 3-4 hexes every turn, which is fairly decent if it’s supported by other units pinning the opponent in place. Facing points made up of a few of them and something tough and nimble (EG: Delphynes) can be pretty damn dangerous. Hit and runs might work as well - as long as you’re careful as fawk. In that case, using them alongside other agile Protos (such as the standard Centaur, Orc or Chrysaor) can work well if the critseekers move closer and draw more fire.

238 BV makes the Centaur 3 the cheapest possible ways to field one of the multiple different types of brutal Medium Clan Laser, but the fabled cost of the ER Medium still pushes its price up a bit.


The final “standard” variant would see the Centaur 4 wander down untredded territory. Maxed armor makes the Centaur 4 the only Centaur design able to tank 2 ER Mediums to the Torso or a single ER Medium to the legs - tough! Speed is also pumped up thanks to the use of a ProtoMech Myomer Booster; 6/9(12) suddenly lets it hit +4 to-hit modifiers on the regular. All of this means a sacrifice in firepower, but in all honesty...it’s not that bad. Two SRM-1s replace the old SRM-2 (although ammo remains at an unchanged 10 shots per tube), while the old laser system is junked in favor of an AP Gauss Rifle with an interesting 13 rounds of ammo. This gives the Centaur 4 a bigger punch, on average, than the original between ranges 3-9, while now bringing reliable A-I firepower as an option. Alternate munitions remain good lookin’, obviously, so I’m actually more of a fan of the Centaur 4 than I am the standard - although this obviously depends on the situation.


There are two downsides to the Centaur 4. The first: BV. It’s up to 228, but that’s understandable and comptetitive considering what it can bring to the table. The second? There’s only one source pointing to its use, and it’s the Protofiction in Total Warfare. And that piece of fiction points at it being a Society design designed by scientist Étienne, so I wouldn’t expect to see this ProtoMech in many places after the Wars of Reaving are over and done with. Still, during the Reaving fiesta feel free to go for the wombo combo and combine it with the spankin’ 6/9(12) Stormcrow Z for maximum smirkage.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Speaking of Reavings, there’s still one design left: one of dem dreaded Zs. The scientist caste kept the old 6/9 movement profile, along with a Main Gun’d ER Micro Laser. Armor was the same as the Centaur 2, but that additional point of armor would be placed in the Legs (thank gawd) instead of the Main Gun. The Z would then go in the opposite direction of the  Centaur 2, and dump the SRMS in favor of an LRM-4 with 10 rounds of ammo. It loses most of its critseeking for a slightly larger ranged punch, while the remaining weight was spent on one of those nifty sets of Magnetic Clamps.


As I already touched upon in the Minotaur PotW article, Magnetic Clamps work well on the bantamweight Centaur. It’s a light machine, so two Centaurs could be carried for that 3-MP speed reduction by anything 40-tons or heavier. Those same two Centaurs could be carried by *any* OmniMech out there for only the 3-MP drop, or with no speed drop by a 40-ton Omni. The only issue is the speed of the Centaur; it’s already pretty fast, which really limits its number of potential transports. Once again, OmniMechs are the most attractive choice. The Fire Moth, Viper, Ice Ferret, Phantom and Cephalus all look pretty good. Even an ancient Icestorm could be used to carry a single Centaur Z. The bonus here is that your transport doesn’t have to go anywhere near the enemy; just drop ‘em wherever you have some nice open terrain to abuse.

The Centaur Z is the cheapest way to bring LRMs to the table, with each one coming in at 179 BV. Their speed comes in handy for mid-ranged plink-slash attacks, but the MagClamps demand a large battlefield to get the most use out of them. If you're playing a mobile hit-and-fade strategy against a slower Clan force, the ability to be carried at absurd speeds is invaluable.


So unlike the Sirens, Minotaurs, Gorgons and their ilk that we've taken a look at, take the Centaur when you want a good generalist. They can be a fun way for players to try ProtoMechs out for the first time, offering many options which keeps them useful on the tabletop in nearly any situation. They mostly fall into the midrange of armor, firepower, range and speed, offering so much that they can fit into nearly any sort of point without much trouble. And as always, if you haven't tried them out yet - give them a shot!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

MASTER UNIT LIST: http://masterunitlist.info/Unit/Details/509/centaur-standard
IRON WIND METALS: http://ironwindmetals.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=4804
« Last Edit: 02 April 2015, 20:11:42 by GreekFire »
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Wrangler

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Re: ProtoMech of the Week: Centaur
« Reply #1 on: 22 January 2015, 13:44:10 »
Interesting article, Greekfire.   The Centaur has some potential with standard being able crank up the speed play mini missile boat with people.  ER Micro Laser maybe same as machine guns, but it does have unlimited ammo property people on campaign may need after they've blown their missile load outs into an enemy.  I'm not too keen on construction rules for it, but imagine it doesn't have room for other Micro weapons?

I think the Z is very nice, but atlas it's tainty, though it doesn't have taboo tech in it though.  Mag Clamps i think are winner for it though, specially you need move unit's in hurray though this guy is bit quick to require it.

I have to chuckle at image of a Balius being used as horse for a Centaur riding in it's saddle. "Gitty up, little pony 'Mech" 
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GreekFire

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Re: ProtoMech of the Week: Centaur
« Reply #2 on: 22 January 2015, 14:09:39 »
Interesting article, Greekfire.   The Centaur has some potential with standard being able crank up the speed play mini missile boat with people.  ER Micro Laser maybe same as machine guns, but it does have unlimited ammo property people on campaign may need after they've blown their missile load outs into an enemy.  I'm not too keen on construction rules for it, but imagine it doesn't have room for other Micro weapons?

The Micro Pulse Laser has the unfortunate downside of weighing a hefty 750 kgs (IIRC), which isn't all that easy to cram into a lot of lighter Protos. It is possible, though; if the Centaur has one feature, it's that it's amazingly easy to toy around with to customize to every player's liking.

I can get the unlimited ammo feature, it's just that ProtoMechs tend to encourage (at least for me) quick and brutal games, not games of attrition. Either they survive the onslaught, or they die in a brutal bath of firepower before they can expend all of their ammo.
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Prince of Darkness

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Re: ProtoMech of the Week: Centaur
« Reply #3 on: 22 January 2015, 15:35:39 »
I happy I held off on my articles now ;)

Interesting article, Greekfire.   The Centaur has some potential with standard being able crank up the speed play mini missile boat with people.  ER Micro Laser maybe same as machine guns, but it does have unlimited ammo property people on campaign may need after they've blown their missile load outs into an enemy.  I'm not too keen on construction rules for it, but imagine it doesn't have room for other Micro weapons?

I think the Z is very nice, but atlas it's tainty, though it doesn't have taboo tech in it though.  Mag Clamps i think are winner for it though, specially you need move unit's in hurray though this guy is bit quick to require it.

I think the clamps are there so it can be placed on high hills or dropped off in woods- 6/9 is a good speed but it can't get the little supporter everywhere. I just wish it dropped the micro laser for another LRM tube.
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Arkansas Warrior

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Re: ProtoMech of the Week: Centaur
« Reply #4 on: 22 January 2015, 15:39:08 »
The Micro Pulse Laser has the unfortunate downside of weighing a hefty 750 kgs (IIRC), which isn't all that easy to cram into a lot of lighter Protos. It is possible, though; if the Centaur has one feature, it's that it's amazingly easy to toy around with to customize to every player's liking.

I can get the unlimited ammo feature, it's just that ProtoMechs tend to encourage (at least for me) quick and brutal games, not games of attrition. Either they survive the onslaught, or they die in a brutal bath of firepower before they can expend all of their ammo.
It weighs 50% more on a proto than on a regular mech? ???
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Scotty

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Re: ProtoMech of the Week: Centaur
« Reply #5 on: 22 January 2015, 16:25:08 »
It weighs 50% more on a proto than on a regular mech? ???

Counting the heatsink, yes.
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GreekFire

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Re: ProtoMech of the Week: Centaur
« Reply #6 on: 22 January 2015, 18:11:24 »
I happy I held off on my articles now ;)

I think the clamps are there so it can be placed on high hills or dropped off in woods- 6/9 is a good speed but it can't get the little supporter everywhere. I just wish it dropped the micro laser for another LRM tube.

Hahaha, I'll yield whenever you're ready though, so just drop me a line when it's good to go!

I can understand wanting to drop it in woods or on a hill, it just seems like a bit of a waste for a 6/9 unit to be stuck in such a static location. Then again, most Society ProtoMechs suffer from the same issue (the slowest magclamp'd one is the Hobgoblin, at 4/6) so I guess it's alright.

Counting the heatsink, yes.

You've got it. That's the reason why certain weapons like the Heavy Small Laser are so weight intensive (1250 kg), but also so cheap on BV (free 750 kgs spent on heat sinks)
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Empyrus

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Re: ProtoMech of the Week: Centaur
« Reply #7 on: 22 January 2015, 21:58:56 »
To make it clear, you dislike ER Micro Laser for Protos or overall?
I though it was thought as efficient weapon, in general. (Or was that Micro Pulse Laser?)

Protos are interesting to read about. They were quite a surprise to me when i first found out about them, i kind of freaked out "What the shit are these things doing in Battletech?" but now, i kind of like the concept actually. Not sure what's appealing in them though...
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Fallen_Raven

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Re: ProtoMech of the Week: Centaur
« Reply #8 on: 22 January 2015, 22:57:28 »
a) I like the Centaur, but its expensive enough that I can't add a point to a force as an after thought. Its sometimes hard to justify a generalist Proto over a specialized 'mech or tank.

b) Sweet zombie c'thullu, who puts an ER Medium on a 6/9 Protomech! The armor might be light, but you aren't going to have a hard time getting into range to use it. (Assuming urban combat of course.)

c) I can see one big advantage to the Z's Mag Clamps. Crossing water can be a pain for the 1 level Protomech, so having a friend with jumpjets can simplify problems with rivers greatly.
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Re: ProtoMech of the Week: Centaur
« Reply #9 on: 23 January 2015, 00:45:45 »
Man, you just keep knocking these articles out of the park. Once the series is done, I intend to compile them into a master "Ultimate User's Manual for ProtoMechs" document.
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GreekFire

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Re: ProtoMech of the Week: Centaur
« Reply #10 on: 23 January 2015, 01:06:32 »
To make it clear, you dislike ER Micro Laser for Protos or overall?
I though it was thought as efficient weapon, in general. (Or was that Micro Pulse Laser?)

For ProtoMechs. Weight-wise, there's veeeery little reason to not take a Machine Gun instead of one. And BV-wise, two Machine Guns cost an unmodified 10 BV for 500 kg (plus minimal weight/BV for ammo) vs a single ER Micro Laser costing an unmodified 7. It's not a direct comparison, but it comes close. And frankly, I'd prefer the Machine Guns in practically any scenario.

On 'Mechs, it's different. It's a superlight, non-explodable weapon that works with Targeting Computers (unlike machine guns). And since most Clan units come with 10 integral double heat sinks, you don't have to worry about that either. This does give it some uses...just look at a few of the Piranha variants out there.

Quote
Protos are interesting to read about. They were quite a surprise to me when i first found out about them, i kind of freaked out "What the shit are these things doing in Battletech?" but now, i kind of like the concept actually. Not sure what's appealing in them though...

They're conceptually similar to a lot of power suits/mecha from other sources. I really think that the thing that held them back the most was their art and how it clashed with the existing BattleTech aesthetic. That, and how difficult it is to create a ProtoMech protagonist when they'll go crazy and die within 10 years.

c) I can see one big advantage to the Z's Mag Clamps. Crossing water can be a pain for the 1 level Protomech, so having a friend with jumpjets can simplify problems with rivers greatly.

Fording small, 1-level deep rivers is actually a piece of cake for most Protos. Not needing to ever roll PSRs really comes in handy, while being only one level tall makes them impervious to most incoming fire while they cross the water. But yeah, crossing anything deeper (or rapids, I imagine) is definitely made easier with a larger buddy.

Man, you just keep knocking these articles out of the park. Once the series is done, I intend to compile them into a master "Ultimate User's Manual for ProtoMechs" document.

Thanks dude!
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Fallen_Raven

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Re: ProtoMech of the Week: Centaur
« Reply #11 on: 23 January 2015, 11:48:39 »
Fording small, 1-level deep rivers is actually a piece of cake for most Protos. Not needing to ever roll PSRs really comes in handy, while being only one level tall makes them impervious to most incoming fire while they cross the water. But yeah, crossing anything deeper (or rapids, I imagine) is definitely made easier with a larger buddy.

I was thinking more about the combination of slowed speed and inability to shoot while underwater. I like the invulnerability aspect, but I'm not so much a fan of the not contributing for a turn. But mostly I was looking for a purpose for the Mag Clamps.
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