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Author Topic: MOTW: PFF-2 Pathfinder  (Read 5409 times)

Empyrus

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MOTW: PFF-2 Pathfinder
« on: 23 April 2018, 16:43:05 »

During the Jihad, the Inner Sphere went through something called "RetroTech craze". The Jihad was destructive in every possible way, and the need for weapons was greater than ever, yet the factory capacity wasn't quite there. Then some genius figured that they could manufacture primitive, Age of War-like 'Mechs more easily than modern equipment. It wouldn't be as good, naturally, but quantity has a quality of its own, as the saying goes.

In 3075, the Lyran Commonwealth needed cheap, easily produced scout 'Mechs for their planetary militias and other lower priority units (and for sale to mercenaries, it would be un-Lyran not to consider potential sales). This resulted in the aptly named Pathfinder, designated PFF-2. At 25 tons with 96 KPH maximum speed, it is an unremarkable design, but such is the price of using Primitive (or more properly, RetroTech) construction. Let's review what this means: The engine has 20%  higher rating for same performance as standard construction would give, in other words more tonnage is used. The cockpit eats into payload mass as well, weighting 5 tons rather than the usual 3 tons. And finally, primitive units use Primitive Armor that gives only 2/3rds of the protection standard armor gives for the same weight (strictly speaking RetroTech units could use other armors but if you go for cheap, why bother?). This all results in another drawback: Attacks against Primitive (or RetroTech) units are more likely to cause critical hits.

The Pathfinder is powered by 180-rated Primitive Fusion engine rather than 150-rated SFE 25 tonners with 6/9 movement would usually use; while the resulting speed is average at best for its weight class, it is common speed in Lyran light 'Mechs and more than enough to keep up with their heavier designs. The Pathfinder's armor weights 6 tons for protection equal to the Lyran-staple Commando, with some armor shifted from rear and center front to the front sides and head. 10 standard heat sinks are used, enough for a simple machine like this.
Unlike rest of the 'Mech, its equipment is modern: Its sole armament is a right arm-mounted ER Medium Laser, and it also sports a modern high quality Beagle Active Probe granting it superior scouting abilities compared to old bug 'Mechs. Finally, though we do not have information about its exact sensor systems the BAP aside, it does possess Improved Sensors quirk (according to BattleMech Manual).
There is one proposed variant, which simply swaps the laser for a TAG. Since MUL lists a PFF-2T variant without record sheet, I am assuming it is the TAG variant mentioned in XTRO: RetroTech.

All in all, the Pathfinder is really what its name implies, a recon 'Mech and nothing more. Use it for scouting, and keep running without stopping to fight, leave that for others. It does have more range than old bug 'Mechs (likely machines used by raiders and pirates) but it also has less mobility and is more vulnerable to their attacks due to its lower spec construction. Against modern versions of those bugs... well, fortunately the Pathfinder is cheap.
Despite its drawbacks, as a 'Mech intended for militias, it is nearly perfect. It has more speed and range than infantry and is suited for supporting them, it is more mobile than vehicles in difficult terrain, and the Beagle Active Probe and the 'Mech's hands likely will find more use in search and rescue operations even if they never see use in combat proper. Anyone else will want something better though.

Other stuff:
The Pathfinder is from XTRO: RetroTech
There is no miniature for it.
http://masterunitlist.info/Unit/Details/4790/pathfinder-pff-2
IS standard and pulse lasers: red; IS ER and X-pulses: blue; Re-engineered lasers: orange; Clan ER, pulse, and ER pulse lasers: green; Clan heavy lasers: yellow; PPCs: skyblue; PPCs w/capacitor: purplish-blue.

Tymers Realm

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Re: MOTW: PFF-2 Pathfinder
« Reply #1 on: 23 April 2018, 18:04:50 »
IOW, a 'Mook' mech?
Or at least one that can spot ambushes...?

Empyrus

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Re: MOTW: PFF-2 Pathfinder
« Reply #2 on: 23 April 2018, 18:11:05 »
IOW, a 'Mook' mech?
Or at least one that can spot ambushes...?

You know where the enemies are when your Pathfinders drop out of contact with you :P

A mook 'Mech is a good description certainly, if the players are pirates. I don't think you find Pathfinders on Draconis Combine or Free World League border worlds. But near-Periphery and other less important places, sure.
IS standard and pulse lasers: red; IS ER and X-pulses: blue; Re-engineered lasers: orange; Clan ER, pulse, and ER pulse lasers: green; Clan heavy lasers: yellow; PPCs: skyblue; PPCs w/capacitor: purplish-blue.

glitterboy2098

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Re: MOTW: PFF-2 Pathfinder
« Reply #3 on: 23 April 2018, 18:41:42 »
You know where the enemies are when your Pathfinders drop out of contact with you :P
replace Pathfinders with Wasps/Stingers/Locusts and that pretty much sums up scouting in the 3rd and 4th succession wars..

Luciora

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Re: MOTW: PFF-2 Pathfinder
« Reply #4 on: 23 April 2018, 18:46:46 »
Now i really want a mini to make another Commando Freyr. The head is a good start.

Empyrus

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Re: MOTW: PFF-2 Pathfinder
« Reply #5 on: 23 April 2018, 19:02:59 »
replace Pathfinders with Wasps/Stingers/Locusts and that pretty much sums up scouting in the 3rd and 4th succession wars..
True, but it isn't like the Active Probe really changes this. The 'Mech isn't fast and tough enough to really run away or survive.
Though admittedly this is a result of the game rules. I assume the Beagle Active Probe really adds long range sensors to 'Mechs as well, along with other useful stuff that can't be really represented with game rules.
IS standard and pulse lasers: red; IS ER and X-pulses: blue; Re-engineered lasers: orange; Clan ER, pulse, and ER pulse lasers: green; Clan heavy lasers: yellow; PPCs: skyblue; PPCs w/capacitor: purplish-blue.

Moonsword

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Re: MOTW: PFF-2 Pathfinder
« Reply #6 on: 23 April 2018, 21:19:11 »
For what it is - a cheap high quality sensor picket - the Pathfinder is a surprisingly good baseline unit to toss out to militias, with a thoughtful use of modern components to get performance where it was necessary to meet requirements.  Long-term, modern 'Mechs are better (their components will be more common once the supply chain is back in order, so the cost will come out in the wash) but the Pathfinder is not a bad unit for what it does.

If you can't maintain this - and I'd bet the active probe is a problem for less sophisticated militias - quit faffing about with 'Mechs and buy a bunch of Ferrets and cheap APCs to use as your sensor picket, substituting numbers to provide the necessary detection radius from your main forces.

True, but it isn't like the Active Probe really changes this. The 'Mech isn't fast and tough enough to really run away or survive.
Though admittedly this is a result of the game rules. I assume the Beagle Active Probe really adds long range sensors to 'Mechs as well, along with other useful stuff that can't be really represented with game rules.

Beagle helps with longer-range detection as well under the Double-Blind rules in TO, 20% over IR and 50% over radar on BattleMechs.
« Last Edit: 23 April 2018, 21:50:40 by Moonsword »

Empyrus

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Re: MOTW: PFF-2 Pathfinder
« Reply #7 on: 23 April 2018, 21:45:12 »
Figures the BAP plays a role in Double-Blind. Never really played that, no chance for it, not practical. (I'm not really a Megamek player, doesn't have the same feel as holding minis and talking with friends face to face while playing.)
IS standard and pulse lasers: red; IS ER and X-pulses: blue; Re-engineered lasers: orange; Clan ER, pulse, and ER pulse lasers: green; Clan heavy lasers: yellow; PPCs: skyblue; PPCs w/capacitor: purplish-blue.

Frogfoot

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Re: MOTW: PFF-2 Pathfinder
« Reply #8 on: 23 April 2018, 23:42:17 »
Seems like it would slot into LCAF units just right, what with the similar chassis to the Commando. I'd guess that the Steiners wouldn't let these guys range too far from their 'wall of steel' so that if it ran into trouble it would have a reasonable chance of retreating towards back-up.

UnLimiTeD

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Re: MOTW: PFF-2 Pathfinder
« Reply #9 on: 24 April 2018, 03:50:34 »
Just far enough to be able to immediately shoot at it's corpse. ^^
For lyran needs, surprisingly focused on what is actually useful. Then again, what they mostly cut was the production cost, so it's very lyran in that regard.
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mbear

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Re: MOTW: PFF-2 Pathfinder
« Reply #10 on: 24 April 2018, 06:48:34 »
I'm really surprised there isn't a post-Jihad upgrade to the Pathfinder. Either an entirely new build or at least an armor overhaul.

UnLimiTeD

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Re: MOTW: PFF-2 Pathfinder
« Reply #11 on: 24 April 2018, 07:03:35 »
Yes, switching to production grade armour shouldn't be too difficult, and as that's what gets damaged first and there's probably a steady and reliable supply available, that makes a lot of sense.
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Empyrus

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Re: MOTW: PFF-2 Pathfinder
« Reply #12 on: 24 April 2018, 08:08:48 »
Switching to all-modern construction would free 3.5 tons after maxed out armor. 4 tons, if you don't waste half a ton for single point of armor.
Either way, this would allow for TAG, a Guardian ECM suite, and another ERML or perhaps swapping the laser for a medium X-pulse laser, to create a full-blown scout/EWAR 'Mech that shares many parts with the Commando.
IS standard and pulse lasers: red; IS ER and X-pulses: blue; Re-engineered lasers: orange; Clan ER, pulse, and ER pulse lasers: green; Clan heavy lasers: yellow; PPCs: skyblue; PPCs w/capacitor: purplish-blue.

Wrangler

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Re: MOTW: PFF-2 Pathfinder
« Reply #13 on: 24 April 2018, 09:01:13 »
Be interesting to see a modern refit (at least Succession War level introtech) version of it.  I think though that once the Dark Age demilitarization / downsiding happened, that Lyrans properly dropped production like sack of potatoes.   Its possible it could been reintroduced in the brief 10-15 years of the Late Dark Age / Gray Monday happened that something could have sparked revival.  Though it may not be fun to play as a personal mech as player, As a opposing force or a NPC supplemental force or even Battleforce level games, it may be more useful since you can get more of them.

Funny thing is the Draconis Combine has a similar mech, the Sokuryou.  I don't think it as cheap as Pathfinder since it's more modern industrialMech vs retrotech mech.  It meant for scouting and artillery spotting work as well.  Though it is a post-Jihad machine introduced in 3084 vs earlier date of the Pathfinder. 
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Moonsword

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Re: MOTW: PFF-2 Pathfinder
« Reply #14 on: 24 April 2018, 09:07:23 »
Switching to all-modern construction would free 3.5 tons after maxed out armor. 4 tons, if you don't waste half a ton for single point of armor.
Either way, this would allow for TAG, a Guardian ECM suite, and another ERML or perhaps swapping the laser for a medium X-pulse laser, to create a full-blown scout/EWAR 'Mech that shares many parts with the Commando.

ECM, TAG, and an ERML would be great additions for a low-end EW platform.  ERMLs are fairly widespread by the Republic Era; MXPLs not so much.

Empyrus

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Re: MOTW: PFF-2 Pathfinder
« Reply #15 on: 24 April 2018, 09:15:32 »
X-pulse lasers become "common" in 3082 per IO, so they should be available. Of course, ER lasers are older tech and likely simpler and easier.
IS standard and pulse lasers: red; IS ER and X-pulses: blue; Re-engineered lasers: orange; Clan ER, pulse, and ER pulse lasers: green; Clan heavy lasers: yellow; PPCs: skyblue; PPCs w/capacitor: purplish-blue.

JadeHellbringer

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Re: MOTW: PFF-2 Pathfinder
« Reply #16 on: 24 April 2018, 11:24:31 »
I'm really surprised there isn't a post-Jihad upgrade to the Pathfinder. Either an entirely new build or at least an armor overhaul.

When you're drawing down your armies, putting a 'mook' (to use the earlier term) into full production instead of something more useful like, say, Razorbacks or Hollanders isn't a great use of scarce resources. This was a design intended to fill the gaps during a particularly devastating war, and when the war was over it was done. (Think destroyer escorts and escort carriers post-1945. They filled their role, and afterwards they were retired quickly- and no more were built once the need passed.)
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grimlock1

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Re: MOTW: PFF-2 Pathfinder
« Reply #17 on: 24 April 2018, 13:58:09 »
Switching to all-modern construction would free 3.5 tons after maxed out armor. 4 tons, if you don't waste half a ton for single point of armor.
Either way, this would allow for TAG, a Guardian ECM suite, and another ERML or perhaps swapping the laser for a medium X-pulse laser, to create a full-blown scout/EWAR 'Mech that shares many parts with the Commando.
Just to check my understanding, other than flavor, c-bill cost and BV cost, are there any advantages to Retrotech?
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Re: MOTW: PFF-2 Pathfinder
« Reply #18 on: 24 April 2018, 14:51:33 »
Just to check my understanding, other than flavor, c-bill cost and BV cost, are there any advantages to Retrotech?

This may be flavor but, availability to shift from an IndustrialMech facility to making RetroTech. In the vein of WW2's tractor to tank factory transitions.

The Pathfinder is one of those units that's a hell of a lot more useful in a strategic sense than a tactical one. Scouting out the enemy is very important but also very boring.
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JadeHellbringer

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Re: MOTW: PFF-2 Pathfinder
« Reply #19 on: 24 April 2018, 15:25:29 »
To follow on Kit's comment, it's also something that Battletech doesn't really handle particularly well in-general. Either you play a standard game and can see where your enemy's units are anyway, or you're using double-blind rules and the game will take a while (to say the least!). For most games, a scout isn't as handy as it would be to real armies- a Retrotech scout then is even less-so. The earlier comments had it dead-on: You know where the enemy is when your Pathfinders stop responding.
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Wrangler

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Re: MOTW: PFF-2 Pathfinder
« Reply #20 on: 24 April 2018, 16:19:16 »
I guess it must not be very popular with it's pilots when that's way they find the enemy!

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Field Commander "I'm sure you won't, even if you don't report back in."
Pathfinder MechWarrior - "...."
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Re: MOTW: PFF-2 Pathfinder
« Reply #21 on: 24 April 2018, 17:07:33 »
"Make sure you try to make your engine explode when you die. The smoke makes for a great scout marker."

(I'm presuming primitive engines follow the same rules as a standard or XL for purposes of engine explosion rules, but as I typed the above I realized I wasn't 100% sure.)
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UnLimiTeD

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Re: MOTW: PFF-2 Pathfinder
« Reply #22 on: 24 April 2018, 20:50:17 »
Well, in double-blind, which is certainly a valid option in MegaMek, it actually has some scouting capabilities.
If they sent them off to militias, they could just drop them from the books; not likely anyone will ever come to check. Of course, then you can't do any fancy refits like fitting them with new armour, so that'll only happen if the world they're on has the industrial capability for that.
In which case: Can't you build something better?
Oh, but that aside: It's got pretty competitive looks.
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Re: MOTW: PFF-2 Pathfinder
« Reply #23 on: 24 April 2018, 21:05:05 »
In which case: Can't you build something better?
Oh, but that aside: It's got pretty competitive looks.
Well, limited production capacity i think is one of the problems.  Primitive Mech is like using today technology with some advanced ones (to us) and slapping legs and arms on it. 

If factories in the Jihad hadn't been blown up, better machines would have been better choice.

Then again, if you can't kill enemy with quality, you can make them joke and quanity...in way down their throat.  Sort like Sherman tanks in WW2, but still not endearing to it's crews...
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Re: MOTW: PFF-2 Pathfinder
« Reply #24 on: 24 April 2018, 21:43:04 »
X-pulse lasers become "common" in 3082 per IO, so they should be available. Of course, ER lasers are older tech and likely simpler and easier.

The date in IO just means all the major factions can build them.  ERMLs have a more common availability code than MXPLs do.  They're used on a lot more units and are just a more mainstream weapon, which is what I was getting at.

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Re: MOTW: PFF-2 Pathfinder
« Reply #25 on: 24 April 2018, 23:39:37 »
"Make sure you try to make your engine explode when you die. The smoke makes for a great scout marker."

(I'm presuming primitive engines follow the same rules as a standard or XL for purposes of engine explosion rules, but as I typed the above I realized I wasn't 100% sure.)
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mbear

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Re: MOTW: PFF-2 Pathfinder
« Reply #26 on: 25 April 2018, 08:28:42 »
Just to check my understanding, other than flavor, c-bill cost and BV cost, are there any advantages to Retrotech?

Out of universe, not really. It'd be like producing M4 Shermans to supplement M1 Abrams production. Sure you can do it, but it's pointless.

If they sent them off to militias, they could just drop them from the books; not likely anyone will ever come to check. Of course, then you can't do any fancy refits like fitting them with new armour, so that'll only happen if the world they're on has the industrial capability for that.

Well a full armor swap isn't much more difficult than repairing damaged armor so I'd think it was in the capability of a militia unit.

When you're drawing down your armies, putting a 'mook' (to use the earlier term) into full production instead of something more useful like, say, Razorbacks or Hollanders isn't a great use of scarce resources. This was a design intended to fill the gaps during a particularly devastating war, and when the war was over it was done. (Think destroyer escorts and escort carriers post-1945. They filled their role, and afterwards they were retired quickly- and no more were built once the need passed.)

Strategically, I agree. Producing RetroTech when you don't absolutely need to is a waste. On the other hand, if you have a Pathfinder in your unit making sure it lives longer is a Good Thing. 'Mechs aren't cheap and swapping it out for a new unit may not be possible. Even having the manufacturer produce an upgrade kit could be good for everyone. The manufacturer gets more money, the government taxes said money, and the buyer gets a more capable unit. (Granted, not much more capable, but still.)

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Re: MOTW: PFF-2 Pathfinder
« Reply #27 on: 25 April 2018, 08:45:19 »
How much modifications can be done to a RetroTech mech?  Would heavy commercial armor (same strength as standard armor) be out of the question? It certainly lessen the crits being inflicted on it.  Unless it's conversion all the way or nothing. Their essentially up gunned IndustrialMechs
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Re: MOTW: PFF-2 Pathfinder
« Reply #28 on: 25 April 2018, 08:58:31 »
In all honesty, my best thoughts would be, as a field upgrade, to replace the Primitive Armor with 4.5 tons of Standard (slight armor increase) and throw a Guardian ECM in one of the Torsos. I haven't speced it out yet.
But that kind of upgrade should be with in most militias capabilities, shouldn't it?

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Re: MOTW: PFF-2 Pathfinder
« Reply #29 on: 25 April 2018, 09:37:52 »
Out of universe, not really. It'd be like producing M4 Shermans to supplement M1 Abrams production. Sure you can do it, but it's pointless.
If my finance and manufacturing people are telling me they can't give me the enough of the M1's I need, but they can supplement them with a passel of M4's, I would inquire how many M60's I could get for that money.
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