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Author Topic: ProtoMechs: A Comprehensive Guide - Part 3: Society ProtoMechs  (Read 7477 times)

GreekFire

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ProtoMechs: A Comprehensive Guide
Part 3: Society ProtoMechs





If you're new to this series you might want to check out the following links. Part one and two cover some basic tenets of ProtoMech usage, while the supplemental on ProtoMech Magnetic Clamps is an important read for any players planning on playing the Society. Finally, the various ProtoMech of the Week articles examine each model in detail; the various "Z" variants can be found in their respective article as well.

PART 1: FORCE SELECTION: http://bg.battletech.com/forums/fan-articles/protomechs-a-comprehensive-guide-part-1-force-selection/
PART 2: TACTICS: http://bg.battletech.com/forums/fan-articles/protomechs-a-comprehensive-guide-part-2-tactics/
PROTOMECH MAGNETIC CLAMPS: http://bg.battletech.com/forums/fan-articles/protomech-of-the-week-supplemental-protomech-magnetic-clamp-system/
ARTICLES ON SOCIETY PROTOMECHS:


~ ~ ~
ProtoMech pilots, though sourced through various aerospace phenotypes, were either unblooded, crippled, or failures.
~ ~ ~

Section One - Society ProtoMech Organization

Arrogance was a defining feature of the scientists at the helm of the Society rebellion. They were filled with the arrogance that they could better lead than the Warriors, the arrogance that they were smarter than the rest. The arrogance that they were right, and everyone else was wrong. This pride had them create their own “improved” organizational structure. This Prime system was based around three different levels: the Un, the Trey, and the Sept. For ProtoMechs, this translated into being:
  • Un: 3 ProtoMechs
  • Trey: 9 ProtoMechs (three Uns)
  • Sept: 21 ProtoMechs (seven Uns)

There is no direct parallel to be found between these units of organization and the Clan standard. If an Un is roughly analogous to a Clan Point, then a Trey becomes the equivalent to a Star and the Sept, a Trinary. This train of thought leads to one major problem: notably, each Society unit becomes sorely outclassed by their Clan counterparts. This isn’t entirely accurate, though - although Protos and BattleMechs might find themselves outnumbered, vehicular and aerospace formations would both either dominate or fail at different levels of the Prime system. Instead, I suggest that Society players disregard one-on-one comparisons and truly accept that they have to work with something unique.

What advantages does this Prime system bring to ProtoMechs? Well, not many. A ProtoMech Un might come close to competing with a ProtoMech Point, while a Trey can compete with two. The Sept should be considered the same as your standard ProtoMech Star. The key advantages here mostly revolve around gaming the system. Normal ProtoMech Stars are broken down into five Points of five - giving them five different initiative sinks. The Sept, however, splits into seven Uns of three. These two extra initiative sinks can give this lower number of ProtoMechs a slight but distinct advantage against tabletop opponents. Even if the Society ever happens to vastly outnumbers the Clanners, the Society player will be able to move two Uns where a Clanner might normally only move a single Point. This extra ProtoMech can make the difference between setting up a completed wall or surround or having your target slip free.

Something else to note is the basic structure of the Sept. Six Uns, lead by an additional command Un. This command Un can be kept back from the thick of the fighting, using their distance to better concentrate on the battle at hand. If the battle goes south, the Un pulls back, living to fight another day. Although this could be construed as an intelligent way of deploying the Society’s limited manpower, I would be afraid that this - combined with the low levels of experience amongst their troops - would lead to extremely high levels of command micromanagement, ultimately leading to an nonreactive and inflexible military. This is largely a fluff-based concern; this obviously shouldn't hamper you as a player.



Section Two - Society ProtoMechs

The unique Society ProtoMechs - along with most of those stolen from the larger Clans - have three distinct strengths built into their designs. Firstly, the homegrown Society ProtoMechs have impressive strategic and tactical maneuverability. The majority have either standard or improved jump jets, with those finding themselves lacking either moving fast enough not to need them (eg: Basilisk-Q B) or using an array of ranged weaponry (eg: Centaur Z). This agility is compounded through the generous use of MagClamps, which allows even slower designs (eg: Hobgoblin) to be deployed as needed throughout the battlefield.

What these two pieces of technology offer (beyond your standard deployment options) is an effective means of pulling them back. The Society had no qualms against retreating, saving their units to fight harder or dirtier on another day. The MagClamps can be a way to save ProtoMechs that have otherwise been stranded through the destruction of their legs. This saves manpower, and reduces the otherwise obscene casualty rates that ProtoMech formations typically suffer from. While this might be less important in a stand-up game, it becomes truly invaluable in a prolonged campaign with limited resources.

The second “feature” of Society ProtoMechs are their thick shells of armor. All of these third-generation Protos have armor coverage that range from “solid” up to “unbelievable”, with the Ultraheavy and Quad ProtoMechs improving their survivability even more. We don’t see many glass cannons here - these ProtoMechs were meant to last. This obviously factors back towards the first strength. With more armor, losses would be further reduced, keeping the valuable Society pilots alive for more than a single battle.

The third advantage revolves around the weapons selection made by the Society. Few units have truly point-blank firepower. ER Micro Lasers, Micro Pulse Lasers, Machine Guns, and the Small Heavy Laser all barely make a single appearance. Instead, the average combat range for these ProtoMechs falls firmly into the 3/6/9 range category, giving them much more flexibility and potential survivability in combat (at least, against certain BA or lightly armed ‘Mechs). This generally gives them a solid punches as well - the mainline combat ProtoMechs are all able to at least land 5-point hits as needed. Units with larger guns aren't exactly uncommon either, with 10-point guns being a powerful feature unique to the Society's ProtoMechs.

Combining all of these traits all point to, once again, survivability. This emphasizes the important role ProtoMechs played within the Society. For once, they weren’t merely cannon fodder to bolster understrength Clusters. They were front-line units, built to hold the line and bring the firepower. The MagClamps alone do the unthinkable by flipping the roles of certain BattleMechs, turning them into support units for key ProtoMech teams. Indeed, these ProtoMechs became miniature BattleMechs - the Society had difficulty finding and fielding quality ‘Mechs, so the ProtoMechs stepped up and replaced them.



Section Three - Negating the Clan Advantage, ProtoMech Style

Clan forces find their largest advantage in one key place - their pilots. The advanced technology of their front-line forces could be dealt with or matched; unlike during the old 3050 Inner Sphere/Invading Clan match-up, the Society had more than enough toys to even the battlefield. What they still had trouble combating was the sheer skill of the warriors they were facing - especially within their ProtoMech Treys, where Nova CEWS was simply not an option. So in order to win, something had to be done about the skill gap. This is where all of the new Society ProtoMechs come into play. Each of the four designs could bring their own means of reducing the accuracy of those Clan warriors. Let’s take a look at what they can do against 'Mechs.

  • Hobgoblin: Armed with Fusillades. With IMPs, a full Un can impose -2 MP, +2 gunnery, and +2 heat on their targets. These effects last for a single round, and the nature of Fusillades mean that you only have enough shots for two rounds.
  • Basilisk Quad: Carries EDP armor. EDP gives a +2 to piloting/gunnery rolls and +5 heat. These last for three turns before the effect needs to be reproduced. The EDP takes a total of six rounds to recharge.
  • Boggart: Brings Plasma Cannons to the party. Each Plasma Cannon deals 2d6 heat - an Un is more than likely to cause a high level of overheating (if not outright capping it). This lasts a single turn, but can be repeated over the course of ten turns.
  • Sprite: The LRMs can be loaded with Smoke Rounds. Each LRM-5 fills a single hex with Light Smoke, although two can be combined for a Heavy Smoke effect. This lasts three turns per shot, although replacing one LRM’s-worth of missiles gives you six shots.

Let’s say all of these effects are combined on a single, 100% heat-neutral target. This target would now be suffering from:

  • -5 walking MP (-2 from IMP, -3 from heat)
  • +6 to-hit (+2 from IMP, +2 from EDP, +2 from heat)
  • +2 to piloting rolls (from EDP)
  • Shutdown roll at 4+
  • Inferno roll if required

Even an insanely powerful 1/2 pilot in a Timber Wolf would find himself immobile and an effective 7/4 pilot for the duration of the effects. What if your target is a standard, 3/4 pilot? They’re now at 9/6. Even the legions of 6/9 movement medium and light ‘Mechs would find themselves largely crippled, at the mercy of the ProtoMechs that should, all things considered, be surrounding their target as well. From here, you’ll only have one turn to take the target out, so make the best of it. Feralize is triggered during the end phase of any turn, so pump your Basilisks (two max, to work with stacking rules) full of it and rush them into the target’s hex. Each of their physical attacks will be dealing 12 damage directly to the ‘Mech’s legs, while the rest of your force should be massing firepower against it from optimal angles, eg: behind it if possible. The Smoke rounds come in very handy here - a Sprite or two can use its missiles to reduce the amount of incoming fire, cutting line-of-sight as needed and letting the ProtoMechs go to town on their prey as safely as possible.

If you’re lucky, your opponent’s ‘Mech will be shut down. From there, it’s an easy thing to aim for the head and blast it off, or aim high with missiles and hope the head hits and resulting PSR are enough to take him out of the fight. Alternatively, if your target is lighter or has already suffered damage, aim low and take one or both of the legs out for a quick mission kill. But let’s say your opponent played it smart and isn’t overheating at all; he’ll still have -2 MP, +4 to-hit, and +2 to piloting rolls. That’s enough to turn your typical Clan pilot into an vat-born paperweight, and a smart surround with your ProtoMechs can still completely kill any movement modifiers from a ground-based ‘Mech. Once again, start aiming and hope for good rolls.

What if the target has jump jets, or can move fast enough to escape the net? That’s when you’ll want to send your elites in to gank it. Forcing a piloting skill roll is the priority; your 3/4 pilot, after getting hit with the EDP discharge, will need 7+ to stay standing after a basic 20-damage PSR. If this jumping target is sent to the dirt, the rest of your ProtoMechs can swarm it and completely kill its movement for the next turn. From there, it’s a matter of shutting it down with Heat and shots aimed high/low. Even if it passes its PSRs, you're facing a low-risk/high-reward situation. Attack as long as you have the advantage, and pull back if it goes for friendlies or starts aiming straight again. Keep your hunter-killers alive to fight another day.



Section 4: Example ProtoMech Formations


Capture ProtoMech Trey
  • Un 1: 3 Hobgoblins (272 BV x3: 816 BV)
  • Un 2: 2 Basilisk-Quads, 1 Minotaur Z (258 BV x2, 295 BV x1: 811 BV)
  • Un 3: 2 Boggarts, 1 Minotaur Z (500 BV x2, 295 BV x1: 1295 BV)
TOTAL BV: 2922

The Capture Trey is quick and easy to add to most forces. Coming in at under 3000 BV, you’re paying roughly the same BV as a low-end 3/4 Clan Heavy. The sacrifice in firepower will be felt, but it works dangerously well in smaller and number-restricted games. This Trey needs to have some more powerful teammates; while they can cripple your opponents favorite unit, the two headhunting Minotaur Zs are only at their best headhunt shutdown or weakened targets. Something with more brute firepower needs to be handy to apply it as needed.

Combat Trey
  • Un 1: 3 Boggart 2s (497 BV x3: 1491 BV)
  • Un 2: 3 Minotaur Zs (295 BV x3: 885 BV)
  • Un 3: 1 Sprite, 1 Boggart, 1 Delphyne 2 (622 BV x1, 500 BV x1, 316 BV x1: 1438 BV)
TOTAL BV: 3814

This Combat Trey is more expensive than the "Capture" alternative, but is instead fully built around taking down an opponent through massed firepower. The two primany Uns carry extremely dangerous weapon systems, while the “command” Un acts as a support unit. The Sprite can offer smoke rounds or flexible critseeking, while the Boggart offers the constant threat of overheat until it is destroyed. The Delphyne 2 finishes off the Un by potentially carrying inferno rounds, but also giving an additional critseeking punch that can be useful against a variety of units. Every unit also has a high level of maneuverability and survivability, allowing it to completely replace a proper 'Mech on the fly.

Generalist ProtoMech Sept
  • Un 1: 3 Boggart 2s (497 BV x3: 1491 BV)
  • Un 2: 3 Procyon Zs (180 BV x3: 540 BV)
  • Un 3: 3 Minotaur Zs (295 BV x3: 885 BV)
  • Un 4: 3 Boggarts (500 BV x3: 1500 BV)
  • Un 5: 3 Sprite 3s (439 BV x3: 1317 BV)
  • Un 6: 3 Basilisk-Quad Bs (218 BV x3: 654 BV)
  • Un 7: 2 Sprites, 1 Delphyne 2 (622 BV x2, 316 BV x1: 1560 BV)
TOTAL BV: 7947

This Sept is fully meant to function independently and fits neatly into your typical 8k games. While effectively a combination of both the Capture and Combat Treys, this Sept streamlines the choices and swaps certain units in order to make the most out of the enlarged formation. A notable change involves replacing the Hobgoblins with Sprite 3s, giving the Trey more Fusillade missiles to use while increasing the firepower of these durable units. The Basilisks are replaced with the B variant, greatly increasing their speed at the expense of their now largely-unneeded firepower. Finally, a pack of Procyon Zs are added to bring some additional skirmishing power and to act as an alternative platform for Inferno missiles. The entire Trey can move at least five hexes per turn, with the only non-jumpers being the incredibly agile Basilisk-Quad Bs.



Final Notes

A few of you might be wondering how to combine these ProtoMechs with a larger force. As always, your units should fully compliment each other. Ask yourself the basic questions:
  • Are the ProtoMechs focused on a pure combat role? Then choose ‘Mechs that can support them via special munitions, critseeking and high durability. Draw attention with the larger 'Mechs if possible, and try to keep a free range of movement with your more fragile ProtoMechs.
  • Are your ProtoMechs playing the disabling game? Then choose ‘Mechs with high speeds and accurate weapons, ones that will be able to quickly react in order to take advantage of a severely gimped target.
  • Are you trying to build a functional Nova CEWS network? You might want to select heavily armored ProtoMechs that you can field aggressively, ones that will force the opponent to choose between targeting them and the spotting Nova.

But most importantly: have a good time! And may the Science be with you.
« Last Edit: 03 May 2015, 22:46:44 by GreekFire »
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Maelwys

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Interesting overview, and nice images.

Its sort of interesting to think of several designs as support units rather than being the main hard hitting combat units. They may not necessarily kill the unit, but they can prevent that unit from killing your limited `Mechs.

UnLimiTeD

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I still love the idea behind the Basilisk Q-B whenever I read about it.
Oh, where was I? Great Article! Would I be right in my assumption that during it's time, the Society was the pinnacle of protomech tech and tactics?
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Maelwys

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Hard to say really. Alot of the technological innovations were sort of co-developed early on it seems, with the Society perhaps taking it over or utilizing it. EDP Armor for instance has an R&D date of 3066 with a Fire Mandrill tag, and a Prototype Design and Production date of 3071 which is tagged as Society/Fire Mandrills. But the Society seems to be the prime user of it

So for primary use, I'd probably agree that they were at the top of it in terms of Tech.

Tactics...probably. They weren't as limited as the others Clanners in terms of what's honorable or right. But on the other hand, during the WoRs, it seems like the other Clans weren't that limited either. But I don't see traditional Clanners really getting their ProtoMechs to work together in the way that Greekfire suggested. So the Society has a leg up there.

Of course, on the other hand, The Society was also feeding some of its characters Feralize, so in some cases, Tactics might be right out beyond "Go hit that until it stops moving."

marauder648

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Bloody superb write up and some magnificent pictures too.  This really does give great insight into Proto operations and how to use them.
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wantec

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The Society was limited in the training and capabilities of it's forces. Most were sibko washouts and other less-skilled warriors. I've always viewed the Un system as a step-down when compared to similar Clan units. So in most cases a Trey was designed to face off against a single Point, and a Sept would take on a Star. Remember, the Society wasn't interested in honorable combat to determine who was the better warrior, they wanted to win. Their tactics involved working alonside a Coyote force, or launching surprise attacks, swarming an enemy, and generally breaking out every trick they had to beat the finest warriors they knew.

For example, using a mixed Sept, one Trey of Protos, one Trey of Mechs, and a command Un of a Mech, You can trick a Clan commander into thinking he's facing a mixed Star. Pick your 4 favorite Protos with Magnetic Clamps, load then up on the Mechs and from a distance it looks like 4 Mechs and a Point of Protos. Use Mechs with Nova CEWS, UltraProtos, and new weapons and you can overwhelm a Clan enemy.
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Paul

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When the Society attacked, they did so with superior numbers, or not at all.
When the society defended, their theories didnt survive that well...

Excellent article! You've definitely put words to a lot of the implied mechanisms and strategies in play.

Kojak

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I've been looking forward to this article for a while and it's even more awesome than I expected. I especially love the integration of art into it, it's a nice touch.
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Caedis Animus

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When the Society attacked, they did so with superior numbers, or not at all.
When the society defended, their theories didnt survive that well...
That's an... Unfair assessment. When they defended, they were going against a PO'd enemy finally willing to spam them with units and orbital bombardment. In that scenario, the only defense you have is to either use your own warships (Which the Society, for the most part, lacked), or run to another planet (Which they lacked the ability to do, because of the angry starship-piloting Clanners.). Then again, my history on the Wars of Reaving may be... Low.

Either way. Would the Society use protomechs that were not made by them or their affiliated factions? Or not? An extension of the this would also be to ask; Would a Society force also use non-Society configurations for non-Society made omnis?
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GreekFire

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Thanks for the kind words, everyone.

Would I be right in my assumption that during it's time, the Society was the pinnacle of protomech tech and tactics?

In my opinion, they're still unsurpassed (at least, until we get an update on what the Homeworlds are doing). The Horses and Ravens may have experimented with some of the Society innovations, but the Society really managed to, in some cases, push things to their limits. And their pioneered so much - they finished off EDP, applied Melee Systems, Improved Heavy Lasers and larger weapons for the first time, invented UltraProtos, Gliders, Quads, MagClamps, Fusillades...

That's an... Unfair assessment. When they defended, they were going against a PO'd enemy finally willing to spam them with units and orbital bombardment. In that scenario, the only defense you have is to either use your own warships (Which the Society, for the most part, lacked), or run to another planet (Which they lacked the ability to do, because of the angry starship-piloting Clanners.). Then again, my history on the Wars of Reaving may be... Low.

Without wanting to be pedantic, they also had another means of dealing with naval assets: HPG viruses broadcast directly to the warship above. They knocked out more than a few warships that way during the Reavings.

Quote
Either way. Would the Society use protomechs that were not made by them or their affiliated factions? Or not? An extension of the this would also be to ask; Would a Society force also use non-Society configurations for non-Society made omnis?

Definitely, but it'd depend a bit on their branch. The Spheroid/Falcon branch would have unlimited access to every chassis the Falcon had experimented with, while the main Coyote bulk would undoubtedly use at least a few Coyote Protos as well. The Tanites could field multiple Cobra models, while the Huntress group could probably field most of the original first-gen machines. Overall, after figuring in trade and salvage, I'd say that Society players can field close to any Protos they want.

Any Omni config would be fair game as well.
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Paul

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Re: ProtoMechs: A Comprehensive Guide - Part 3: Society ProtoMechs
« Reply #10 on: 04 May 2015, 10:11:08 »
Without wanting to be pedantic, they also had another means of dealing with naval assets: HPG viruses broadcast directly to the warship above. They knocked out more than a few warships that way during the Reavings.

True, but it should be noted that the beneficial effect was largely in the consequential hesitance of the Warriors to deploy WarShips when they were dealing with the Society. They were unwilling to run the risk that their vessels might be out of commission for a long period of time, and thereby made vulnerable to their enemies.
(Never mind what happens to a WarShip trying to take up low orbit for orbital bombardment when it gets hit)

Also, technically, they exploited a backdoor they installed during routine maintenance; the ultimate plan would have been to have this backdoor installed in the vast majority of vessels, including DropShips. (Which then'd have to have a regulars comms system with the backdoor installed)
If it was just a virus, they would've been able to use it every vessel that had HPG.
It's a shame they were rushed, isn't it? ;)

Paul


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Re: ProtoMechs: A Comprehensive Guide - Part 3: Society ProtoMechs
« Reply #11 on: 04 May 2015, 21:30:23 »
Nope, not a shame at all.  Thank you Brett Andrews, you did one thing worth while, well other than being on the receiving end of a canon hulk smash.

Greek, ridiculous article dude!  O0
The more I play with the Society toys the more I realize just how they managed to accomplish what they did.  They shouldn't have ever had a chance against the Warriors.  Their tech is really good.  And it's also really good at fighting the clans specifically (though IMP and EDP would be hilarious against the MD).

Next time you guys make new protos please call this dude!!! (Yes that's the second time I said it)


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invallid effort

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Re: ProtoMechs: A Comprehensive Guide - Part 3: Society ProtoMechs
« Reply #12 on: 04 May 2015, 21:38:08 »
A very nice article. All your prototype articles have been fascinating and I don't even use protos
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Nothing "frail" about tactical retreat