Welcome to Force Building Friday where we look at building units for use in Classic Battletech and Alpha Strike!
Today, we'll pencil together a DCMS Second Night Stalkers Probe Lance designed to maximize movement and reduce to hit numbers.
From the Ground Up
When I got hands on the recent Combat Manual: Kurita, I found page after page of Draconis goodness! This book combines (get it?!) fantastic familiar units with fast-paced new Special Command Abilities. Coupled with a wave of nostalgia brought on by amazing newseen art, I set out to design a lance of one of my favorite comabt command schemes: the Night Stalkers.
Second Night Stalkers
One of the most interesting Kurita schemes around, the Night Stalkers give artists the freedom to crack open more than jara of grey and red when painting DCMS units. The official description from Camospecs.com states:
The Night Stalkers favor blacks, greys, and dark blues.
Referencing examples from across the Camospecs book to FM: Draconis Combine and the new CM: Kurita, players will find examples ranging from a vintage 80's blue, black, and grey Shadow Hawk to a solemn 90's all black Atlas.
More than the colors, the Second Night Stalkers offer some interesting play styles. Being a veteran unit, a Night Stalkers force can average a skill of 3 and take up to two Special Command Abilities (SCA). With the choices available, a player can choose to reduce penalties for fighting at night, reduce to-hit penalties, or build specialized aerospace support. Because they hail from the Combine, the Night Stalkers are also able to choose the Warrior Code SCA (CM: Kurita, 85).
Selecting SCAs and Special Pilot Abilities (SPA) that reduce to hit numbers allows for the design on an especially agressive unit. Chosing to build a Probe Lance reinforces this approach. With 75% of Probe Lance units receiving the Blood Stalker SPA, three of the four pieces will have a -1 to hit target number if they attack a designated unit. The down side is, these units receive a +2 penalty for attacking another unit. (In the latest errata, this SPA applies not to a single opposing model, but the formation it is in!)
This play style can be challenging with a light weight command. In 3039 terms, these units are often light on armor and structure and maybe moderate on speed. To help give these pieces as much survivability as possible, maneuverability and speed are key. Not only do these traits help to put pieces behind cover but also provide additional penalties to hit from TMMs and jump. With the Hit and Run SCA, Night Stalker units can impose a to hit penalty on the opponent when jumping without receiving the +1 to hit penatly themselves. Or, if the Night Stalker unit is moving, it receives a -1 to hit modifier. Yes, when moving, these units fire as if standing still.
If environmental special rules are in play, selecting Environmental Specialization (Night) adds to the Night Stalker's defence. On its own, night time conditions enforce a +2 to hit modifier on all players. The Night Stalkers, however, only incur a +1 to hit penalty.
The take away design philosophy is: reduce your to hit numbers with SCAs and SPAs while increasing your opponent's with range and movement modifiers.
Wanting to keep the models fairly limited to plastics, I chose:
SHD-2K Shadow Hawk (3rd Edition plastic--it's still made from long-dead dinosaurs!)
Chosing two different Jenners meant that this formation does not need to spend one Faction Point (FP) to pay for the duplicate model. What's more, the -7F has more armor and the ENE special, thereby saving it from dangerous ammunition explosions. If a more energy-based style is appealing, sub the -7D for a JVN-10F. This will, however, reduce the speed of the unit, effectively trading one marker of survivability for another.
The Shadow Hawk's speed of 10"/6"j is a bit too slow for the standard Pursuit Lance--thus, the choice of a Probe Lance. Players shouldn't let this change lure them into forgetting that this lance plays on a razor thin margin of survival. It does, however, bring with it substantial armor and a long-range attack to support its smaller, faster lance mates.
The final piece, the Panther, provides more Kurita flavor, maintains the jump, adds a long range punch. If so inclined, as in the example, players can maximize the reduced to hit approach by taking the named pilot Chu-I Akihiro Feenandez.
With Chu-I Fernandez, players have access to the Combined Fire SCA.
Under optimal circumstances, this unit will have:
-1 to hit for Blood Stalker (three models)
-1 to hit for Hit and Run (three models)
-1 to hit for Combined Fire (four models) and
Automatic critical hit check from Chu-I Feenandez
In one turn, if everything hits where its aimed, this lance will do up 6/7/2, with the crit check or 7/8/3 without.
Take the Night
This unit is super aggressive and pretty quick. It doesn't have a lot of protection on its own--so keep moving! A fun, alternative lance would be to use a command with the Flankers or Hidden Units ability.
Have your own ideas or suggestions for Force Building Friday? Post it in the comments below!
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