Category Archives: Reviews

Rabid Coyote vs. Ursus – The Second Line Bodyguards

While not as adaptable or flexible as OmniMechs, the Clans as a whole still see the indelible value of standard BattleMech technology. Even in their limited configuration state, when equipped with their venerable technology, Clan second line BattleMechs provide some of the most solid, dependable, and fun designs in the game. From the well-known Mad Cat Mk II to the iconic Kodiak and the re-imagined IIC lines, Clan second line designs range all the way from amazing to completely laughable.

Second line `Mechs are generally used for defensive operations, with some exceptions, and as such generally use less expensive and more stable parts and technology. Standard Engines are commonly found in second line designs, as well as standard chassis as opposed to Endo Steel construction. Ferro-Fibrous Armor, however, still appears to be the normal standard even with second line designs.

Today I want to take a look at two second line BattleMechs that were designed a few years, and couple thousand light years, apart from each other. These two `Mechs were designed to fill similar roles in their respective Clans’ toumans, and each Clan went about the job a different way. In the case of Clan Coyote, they needed a lighter and faster design that could deliver a good punch standing alongside heavier units while still possessing enough speed to pursue attackers. For Clan Ghost Bear, the need for a strong and dependable second line design was apparent from the moment they arrived in the Inner Sphere and began taking and holding worlds.

Even with some of the differences in need, Clans Coyote and Ghost Bear ended up designing and producing similar BattleMechs that fit the needs of each Clan near perfectly. Let’s dig into the histories, similarities, differences, and ultimately a comparative match-up, of the Rabid Coyote and the Ursus. For the purposes of this article, we are going to look at just the standard variants of both BattleMechs.

Rabid Coyote

Clan Coyote created the Rabid Coyote out of a need to support their highly successful assault class designs, such as the Canis and Savage Coyote. The larger `Mechs lacked a speed that was necessary for pursuing fleeing foes and suffered from the ability to engage faster enemies that could redeploy and attack from new angles.

During the time period following the Great Refusal, in the upheaval and scramble for new resources that followed the vacuum of Clan Smoke Jaguar’s demise, Clan Coyote did not fare well. Clan Coyote, once at the top of Clan heap, now found itself on the edge of irrelevance. Even the introduction of Advanced Tactical Missile technology, solely a product of Clan Coyote, was not enough to catapult the Clan back into the spotlight.

The Khans needed something to help their touman, help their warriors on the battlefield, and help stabilize their decline. The future of the Clan was riding on the success of their next venture.

Designed as a bodyguard unit for heavier `Mechs, the Rabid Coyote was abjectly rejected upon arrival by the Warriors to which it was assigned. The concept that a BattleMech should play bodyguard and support to another BattleMech was one that Coyote Trueborns especially despised.

Regardless of the reception, the Rabid Coyote appears to be here to stay. Field tests and trials by fire have been positive for the new design, and Clan Coyote is committed to keeping the BattleMech in its ranks.

Armaments and Capabilities 

Likely, at least in part, to further highlight their new technology, the Rabid Coyote‘s main armament is a single ATM 12 set in its left torso. The ATM has one ton of ammo for each type of ATM missile. This main weapon is backed up by four Medium Pulse Lasers, two in each arm, and an Electronic Countermeasure Suite (ECM) located near the cockpit. Ample armor protection, eight and a half tons of Ferro-Fibrous Armor, for a 55 ton BattleMech is provided, and battlefield staying power is backed up by its use of a standard engine, all mounted on an Endo Steel chassis. 12 Double Heat Sinks allow the Rabid Coyote to remain fairly cool when utilizing its entire arsenal.

This design on paper is as solid as they come. Perhaps a bit slow for a Clan Medium, in its intended role the 5/8 speed works out just fine, especially when compared to the speeds of the BattleMechs in whose company the Rabid Coyote is most commonly found.

Ursus

Rolling off the production in 3059, seven years before the Rabid Coyote appeared in Clan Coyote’s touman, the Ursus was a triumphant accomplishment for Khan Bjorn Jorgensson and for Clan Ghost Bear. The first Clan BattleMech produced completely within the Inner Sphere, the Ursus was designed to fill a painful gap in Clan Ghost Bear’s second line forces.

The Ursus was designed somewhat with a “less is more” mentality that enforced its purpose. Using simple technologies like a standard chassis and engine, the design is dependable and able to take a lot of punishment for a fifty ton Medium `Mech. Received well by the touman as a whole, the majority of the first production runs found assignment to units primarily along the Draconis Combine border and saw action against both DCMS and Clan Nova Cat forces.

While not specifically created as a bodyguard unit, as in the case of the Rabid Coyote, the Ursus still found use in the role as it was soon assigned to duty alongside larger and slower second line BattleMechs like the Kodiak and Grizzly. In this role, the uncharacteristically slower speed of the Ursus did not feel at all like a liability, and the machine continued to shine as a defensive unit. Many commanders now consider the Ursus to be a quintessential companion to slower Heavy and Assault second line BattleMechs.

Click on the picture to visit IronWind Metals and get your own Ursus.

Armament and Capabilities

Thanks in part to its smaller engine, and the use of eight and a half tons of Ferro-Fibrous Armor, the Ursus packs an arsenal of weaponry that outclasses almost any other Clan second line Medium and many OmniMechs of its weight class. Its main armaments are on its right arm, which houses an Extended Range Large Laser and two Medium Pulse Lasers. These are backed up at long and medium ranges, respectively, by an LRM 10 on its left arm and an SRM 6 mounted in its center torso. Adding a final touch to the brawler nature of the BattleMech, each side torso sports an Extended Range Medium Laser, adding to the design’s ability to engage effectively and decisively at medium range. Finally, the entire BattleMech is protected by an integrated Electronic Countermeasure Suite mounted in its right torso. 16 Double Heat Sinks allow the Ursus to stay just about as cool as the Rabid Coyote when using its vast array of weapons.

At first glance, it just doesn’t seem like it is possible to fit all of that into a fifty ton chassis, but there it is. The secret to the Ursus is in its speed. 4/6 is painfully slow even for some Clan Heavy `Mechs, but in its intended role as a defensive and bodyguard unit, the Ursus just plain does not need to worry about being speedy.

Head to Head

Each of these BattleMechs represents a different take on what are essentially similar battlefield roles. The Rabid Coyote was additionally designed to emphasize pursuit after a successful defense, and the Ursus was designed to maximize overall defensive capability and sturdiness supporting larger `Mechs. Both designs are most commonly seen in the company of heavier designs, providing escort and support for the larger machines.

Both `Mechs’ incorporation of ECM suites makes them invaluable on the battlefield in the company heavier units that are not commonly equipped with such countermeasures.

Also, it is highly unlikely that either of these two BattleMechs have ever seen each other on the battlefield. First, they are designed for the same role, not opposing roles, which means it would be more than exceedingly rare to see one or the other in an attacking force where the other is present among the defending forces. Mostly, though, is the fact that the Rabid Coyote is deployed by a Clan that is located totally in the Clan Homeworlds, and the Ursus is deployed by a Clan that is now completely located in the Inner Sphere. The Ursus was only ever produced in the Inner Sphere and was never transported to Clan space during the short time between its initial production and the Ghost Bears’ exodus from Clan space.

IronWind Metals has Rabid Coyote models, too!

While Clan Wolf did obtain the design from their Coyote friends some time before their ejection from Clan space, eventually deploying their own variant during the Jihad, it is still highly unlikely for the two BattleMechs to have met on the field of batter. But we can imagine what a heads up engagement between these two BattleMechs might have looked like.

I’ll give the long range game to the Ursus, even if slightly. Its ER Large Laser and LRM 10 are not affected by the Rabid Coyote‘s ECM Suite in the same way that the Ursus‘ ECM affects the Rabid Coyote‘s ATM 12 launcher. Fortunately for the Rabid Coyote because of its speed advantage over the slower Ghost Bear `Mech, the long range game should not last very long.

In the medium range, both BattleMechs enter each other’s real danger zones. The Rabid Coyote adds four Medium Pulse Lasers into the mix, where as the Ursus adds two Medium Pulse Lasers and 2 ER Medium Lasers. If accuracy becomes an issue, the Rabid Coyote has the edge at this point. Its greater movement based defense also helps to further mitigate the non-Pulse Laser part of the Ursus‘ battery. However, a few luckier hits at shorter ranges with the ER Large Laser could keep the Ursus well in the fight.

It is at short range that the Rabid Coyote might finally turn the tables on the Ursus in a convincing manner. The High Explosive missiles on its ATM 12 will begin to exact a heavy toll on the Ursus, which does gain the use of its regular SRM 6 at this range.

In my estimation of the two BattleMechs, if the Ursus can prolong the longer range engagement, keeping to long range and the far end of medium range, for as long as possible, it will keep the upper hand. However, once the Rabid Coyote is able to make use of its superior speed and close to short range, the power of ATM 12 system will likely overpower the Ursus‘ ability to answer back as effectively.

I know that at this point you might be thinking that I’m going to avoid outright declaring a winner in this fight, and you would be right to think so. Both of these BattleMechs are well armed and armored for their weight class, and in a medium weight, non-striker defensive role, they are both perfect in their own ways.

Final Thoughts

While not as widespread as other designs, both the Ursus and Rabid Coyote are available in certain places should you be looking for a flavorful addition to a unit.

The Ursus has found its way, in the form of the Ursus 2 variant, into the touman of Clan Hell’s Horses, and the original variant also traveled with many of the Ghost Bear Clusters gifted to the Republic of the Sphere after the Jihad. Of course, you can almost always come up with a reason to have any BattleMech in any force, especially a mercenary unit, and I would not be surprised to see the Ursus scattered about very thinly in the forces of the Draconis Combine, Clan Nova Cat, and even Clan Wolf. Salvage is a beautiful thing.

The Rabid Coyote only regularly appears among Clan Wolf forces in the Inner Sphere, but the Homeworld Clans Coyote and Cloud Cobra both field the design in large numbers. It is also not unheard of to see the design fielded by Clan Burrock and the Dark Caste. Like the Ursus, the design may have spread in very limited numbers, as salvage, from Clan Wolf and into the forces of Clans Jade Falcon, Ghost Bear, and Hell’s Horses, as well as even possibly into the LAAF.

If you play any of these factions, or you just really want an awesome and defensive Clan tech BattleMech, and you have the means, I highly recommend picking either one (or both!) up.

Want to Know More?

If you want to know more about either the Ursus or Rabid Coyote, check out the reference materials listed below:

BattleTech Technical Readout: 3060 on BattleCorps, DriveThruRPG, or Amazon.

BattleTech Technical Readout: 3067 on BattleCorpsDriveThruRPG, or Amazon.

Want to see me compare two other BattleMechs? Suggest a pairing in the comments, and if it strikes my fancy I might just write it!

Product Review: Technical Readout: 3150

777px-TRO3150I, Dædalus; my poor boy, Icarus;
Thy father, Minos, that denied our course;
The sun, that sear’d the wings of my sweet boy,
Thy brother Edward, and thyself the sea,
Whose envious gulf did swallow up his life.
Ah! kill me with thy weapon, not with words.
– William Shakespeare, Henry VI, Part 3, Act 5, Scene 6

Was I the only when a little angry when Technical Readout: 3150 was released with absolutely no original designs?

Okay, I get it. The Technical Readout: 3145 series – with each major faction receiving its own book – was fairly massive in the sheer amount of content produced. We received a relatively huge amount of new ‘Mechs, battle armors, vehicles of every kind, DropShips, Aerospace fighters and even ProtoMechs. Heck, we even got a new class of unit: the QuadVee. Vehicles transforming into four legged ‘Mechs. For those people who thought the “beloved” Land Air ‘Mech wasn’t bastardized enough. Or possibly for those people who thought that BattleTech needed to be more like The Transformers. One of those. So in a sense, it is understandable that Catalyst Games would release a significant sampling of choice units from the books of the 3145 series. It is totally understandable, in fact.

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Product Review: Operational Turning Points: Capellan Crusades

Operational_Turning_Points_Capellan_Crusades“For God’s sake, let us sit upon the ground
And tell sad stories of the death of kings;
How some have been deposed; some slain in war,
Some haunted by the ghosts they have deposed;
Some poison’d by their wives: some sleeping kill’d;
All murder’d: for within the hollow crown”
– William Shakespeare, The Life and Death of Richard the Second, Act 3, Scene 2

How do you tell the story about the death of a legend?

Those of you who have read my articles may be aware that my introduction into BattleTech was the start of the Clan Invasion era, beginning with the novel Lethal Heritage. Michael Stackpole introduced us to a generation of larger-than-life characters. Victor Steiner-Davion. Phelan Kell. Shin Yodama and Hohiro Kurita. And, of course, Kai Allard-Liao; the greatest MechWarrior of his time and era, with the self-confidence of a mollusk threatened by a salt-shaker. The confidence part changed, of course, over the course of the novels. Kai, sadly, lost his precedence and became a secondary character to Victor, but perhaps part of that was the fact that the character evolved to the point where further exploration would have been superfluous, at least from a development standpoint. Nevertheless, Kai Allard-Liao was the best of the best. (In fact, the flavor text in this product firmly and definitively establishes this.) I certainly still found him interesting and relevant. (Heck, I even wrote a Sarna Wiki article on his ex-girlfriend.)

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My Penance

So Much Better Than I Realized!

I have never been much of a fan of vehicles in BattleTech.  I grew up in an era when a combat vehicle was considered way too fragile for serious battle.  Maybe they had valuable tactical usages, keeping battles in certain places or whatnot, but they were not really something that made the cut anywhere.

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Your Favorite IS BattleMechs from 3060

The Technical Readout:  3060 shipped and like always I headed to my local gaming store to purchase my copy very soon after.  I still remember looking over those units for the first time, and finding some that really stuck with me.  Today I want to look at my four favorite BattleMechs from 3060, and then hear from you about your own.

What do you like in a BattleMech?  What makes it work?  Everyone’s playgroup will be different.  I get that.  If you run into a lot of missile boats, then an Anti-Missile System has an enhanced value to you.  I’m not a fan of it normally.  If you run into a lot of ECM warfare, then electrical enhancements, like Artemis IV are just dead weight in a lot of situations.  So what do I like in a BattleMech?  Let’s take a look and see!

And the Vikings Roll

Viking – Let’s go ahead and start with my favorite BattleMech from the Technical Readout, shall we?  My friend, the 90 ton assault class Viking, a combination ComStar and Free Rasalhague Republic force.  This is a great missile boat for your army – it sports two LRM20s, and two LRM15s as well – launching a full 70 missiles down field each round.  With Artemis IV fire support, it can really blow out an enemy unit. It has a largely redundant quartet of machine guns and a pair of small lasers as close range stuff in case someone gets a little too big for their britches and tries to close.  Avoiding the problems that can come with an XL engine, particularly in a unit with so many ammo critical slots (threatening an explosion that would shut down the ‘Mech), the Viking even has a strong amount of armor for those that want to return fire – a full 15.5 tons.  It’s one of the best missile boats ever made, and it will not just exploit open areas on units, but it peppers armor itself!

The Eagle has Landed (Literally)!

Eagle When playing I’ve found the Eagle to be a strong and reliable design in a few major roles.  5/8/5 movement is very respectable for a light ‘Mech, because you can always jump to get +3 to be hit if you need it, or else you can just walk +2 or run +3, so you have options to make it harder to hit you than it is to hit others.  That’s what you want.  In addition to that, we have an ER Large Laser to give the unit a long range bite, and an ER Medium to back it up.  You can leap around, finding the right spot to fire off a few lasers.  And then don’t forget that is has max armor as well.  I like to use it as anything from a traditional scouting role to a flanking force that pushes heavier units or even a supplement to a long-range position where it can head out quickly to deal with anybody who comes close.  That’s a good BattleMech, right?  And then it has TAG as well, so you can paint stuff for future damage from other units in the right lance.  I often don’t even bother.  It has enough weaponry, range, armor, and movement to suffice for a 25 ton guy, and when you need it, TAG comes a-calling!

Wizards and Mages, Oh My!

Shugenja – I’ve never a super big fan of XL engines.  They work in the right circumstances and for the perfect unit, but otherwise, I prefer a unit with survivability.  Particularly when it’s low on armor or tends to explode.  That’s why the Shugenja is a strong choice.  It’s a larger unit that uses the XL engine to give it enough room for a solid allotment of long range of weaponry – that ER PPC plus the pair of Large Lasers – all energy weapons that don’t rely on ammo – and a strong MRM 30 launcher to fill in a medium range role and to ward off any smaller units from getting too comfortable.  Meanwhile the heavy BattleMech sports 13 tons of ferro armor, so it has pretty good protection.  It addition, it has the valuable C3 Master unit, so it provides two roles.  It’s a good long-range ‘Mech that can sit back and snipe at folks, while also providing the Master for a C3 equipped lance.  That combination, along with the strong armor it affords, is a powerful combination for your unit.  I use them a lot, and have gotten great results.

Blake and Marik, BFF!

Buccaneer – I don’t generally like an XL Engine on a unit that wants to close.  It’s prone to getting hit overly much.  And the Buccaneer definitely wants to close, so it can connect with its medium and short range weaponry.  Other than the ER Large Laser, it doesn’t include any long range weapons.  Now you can rock a quartet of Medium Lasers, a random Medium Pulse Laser, and an SRM 6 (with Artemis) for short range fun, and that’s in addition to the hatchet that forces you to close, and gives you a good reason to do so!  Don’t forget that unit has great armor – 10 tons of ferro on a 55 ton ‘Mech is virtually maxed out.  And the weapons load doesn’t require more heat sinks.  Your base 10 [20] can deal with the heat from all five lasers, and your SRM 6 (You make just over 20 heat with your movement as well).  So the unit works from all of those angles.  But what XL engine gives you is an unusual way to use it.  You have a crazy 6/9 movement.  That lets you stab in there quickly from way outside of its normal range to hit quickly and powerfully.  You can run 8 or 9 hexes, close with a BattleMech, and then carve into it with your weapons.  You have the potential for a strong hit and fade tactic if you want, or you can stay and fight for a few turns, with the flexibility that battle requires.  I’ve found myself using it in a variety of roles. But my favorite is to snipe with the XL Laser and position my ‘Mech to make a running and basing attack on the flank or rear of a unit and then just devastate it.  This thing puts the fear of Blake into you.

So there are my four favorite Inner Sphere BattleMechs from 3060.  What are yours?

Tanks a Lot

Tank-Geddon!

Ah yes, the combat vehicle.  It’s downright prolific in the Inner Sphere (and the Periphery even more so)! We have lots of things telling us that your basic combat vehicle has a lot of value on the battlefield. But let’s set aside the fluff for a moment and talk about what your experience has really been with tanks and other vehicles.

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BattleMechs that Play Better than they Look

Are there BattleMechs out there that are ugly as sin but you still get real joy from playing them?  Is there a go-to ‘Mech for you that your friends taunt you about, but you just know how to get it to work?  What BattleMechs out there play better than they look for you?

Jenners For Science!

JennerI don’t know why, but for some reason, I always get Jenners to work well.  They look ugly, I don’t like the design that much from an aesthetic standpoint, and you might wonder at how I can get an overheated low-armor unit to work so well.  I wonder it about it too!  But I do.  Sometimes I just get them to play like a musical instrument.   I get a devastating impact from them at times, and in my most recent run on MegaMekNet, I had a couple that had a lot of surprising kills they had ratcheted up.  From Hunchbacks to an Archer, the Jenner can sometimes be a master of taking out things on the battlefield way above its tonnage.  At least for me.

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BattleMechs that Look Better than they Play

Ever since I looked at my first Technical Readout, I realized that BattleTech was a game about aesthetics, just as much as it was about blowing stuff up.  There were always a variety of BattleMechs that just has a really effective design.  Before I played my first game, before I even knew the rules, a friend told me to just play a ‘Mech that looked good – the better looking ones always played better.

Of course, now I’ve played the game long enough to know better.  Design and beauty aren’t always hand in hand.   There are a variety of units rocking the block that look like more of a threat than they actually are.  Let’s take a look at a few BattleMechs that I always thought had the look, but couldn’t follow it up.

Speak Softly, and Carry a Big Gun

HollanderI love the way this light ‘Mech looks, with the big gun, the frame built around it and more.  It just looks great, like a ‘Mech fused to a piece of artillery or a modern day weapon like the M777 Howitzer.  The ‘Mech has always felt like a realistic looking and strong design.  Except, it’s not.  As a design, it lacks ammo, backup weapons, armor, speed, etc.  It’s just not a strong design.  I’ve played them, and I have really wanted them to work, and it’s never to be.

 

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BattleMechs That Never Worked For You

Have you ever run into BattleMechs that you just don’t get?  Have you heard lots of accolades from other players, but then they never work for you?  They are highly acclaimed in forums and have lots of defenders online, but you’ve always been disappointed from them.

I just don’t understand them.  I’ve tried them, I’ve played with them, and they just never work.  I have a few BattleMechs below that have just never worked for me, no matter how much people might extoll them.  Have they worked for you?

We Built Missile City…

CommandoI get that there are some enthusiasts out there that love their Commandos, with its fast strike capacity and strong weapons payload for a 25 ton unit.   But me?  I’ve never gotten them to work well.  They are too weak in armor, and I’ve always wished they’d be faster, or jump to get a little closer, or to get a little harder to hit.  They can get blasted at range, and they need the right terrain to be feasible.  Commandos – I can’t get them to work.

 

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