This coming Faction War, a particular run I’ve been quite proud of, a track record if you will, is going to come to an end.
I’ve fought in every Faction War, some have been good, some dire, some fun, some a grind, some as part of my clan, some as a freelancer.
The one thing common to all is that I have always ended up as one of the top 5 killers. What was once known as the ‘Order of the Green’, back when the prize mech was a Dreadnought.
Unfortunately that run will be broken as I have to sit out this coming conflict.
Not through choice.
Unfortunately this particular bash (and lets face it, a Faction War is a big time commitment with the force sizes involved) is going to coincide with possibly the most major family based celebration we have.
There is a lot of preparation that goes into these holidays, and I simply cant afford to take three full days from my schedule to devote to a war. Heck, due to time dilation on the portals, I would be facing the fact that 3/4’s of the final battle would be on the holiday itself.
“Sorry hon, just popping out for most of the day, you know how it is, shit ton of mechs to blow up, Ho Ho Ho!…’
I’d either be divorced or gunned down before I’d taken two paces…
Had it been a normal Clan war, I may have been able to pop my attacks on the run, but no way can I grind out a Faction War.
There’s another tradition that I believed I’d be missing out on this war season since I’d be inactive.
Just before we go into battle, a call goes over out comm net.
Since it’s a tradition, it is part good luck charm but also a statement of intent, a confirmation of readiness, a call to arms and a practical reminder to check formations.
Then, lo and behold, I was bored and checked to see what was happening on the mountain.
I grinned and pressed the comm stud.
Cruisers on the field.
Long story short, another cruiser KotM, another gold.
I’ve had a reasonable run of them lately, including taking a heavy cruiser medal and even getting the elusive 50 ton division finally.
Now no KotM is ever a forgone conclusion (I’ve both won and lost them with a lucky hit at exactly the right time) but when its a 70 ton event and I’m at the top end of the weight bracket, things can’t get stacked much more in my favour.
All that aside, we were talking about traditions. Every Nephilax I have is named, generally in reference to the event in which it was won, but on occasion if its been a real nail biter, I will name the pilot who gave me a run for my money.
Sten (who works for that other rag) has a named mech. Christine and Alyssa Mainer both do. John Thorson, the Inferno ace does as well.
Until recently, outside of my Nephs, only one other mech has received naming rights.
Back in the day, a chap by the name of Don Fugate was an old clan mate of mine. Sterling fellow, very easy going and unfortunately for him, he ended up as the target of too many of my pranks.
Now before he went on to bigger and better things (becoming a Torrent Legend and part of the Zeon pack..) he was legendary amongst us for two things.
The first was his absolute loathing of specialists. Therefore it seemed only fitting that on hearing of his retirement, I let him know that I had renamed one of my cruiser mechs in his honour… just so that he could forever continue in battle as a part of his most passionate dislike.
He got the joke, and took it in his usual laid-back manner.
He sent me a mail bomb with a smiley face on it.
See, no hard feelings on either side.
The other thing was his running rivalry with a chap from another clan. They would eventually join up under the same banner, but back then you could always tell when they were going at it yet again with one of their legendary KotM duels… not often did Don lose his cool, but the very ether that radio waves traveled through would turn blue when he started ranting mid fight when facing this particular individual.
His worthy opponent was a certain Mark Penner.
Now I didn’t know Mark as well as a lot of you, mostly it was by reputation, but I did have the honour of serving alongside him during the 2nd Faction War.
We even shared a pitcher of something especially obnoxious at the table reserved for the Order of the Green (after which for some reason I was convinced he was a talking penguin intent on selling me a time-share unit, but that probably just goes to show I shouldn’t attempt to drink with the big boys…).
However such was his reputation, I did feel that I should mark his sad passing in my own way. I had just aquired a new cruiser mech, so it seemed only fair that a mech carrying his name should fight alongside his old rival and clan mate. The fact that his would be the only green in a sea of gold and red seemed fitting from my own experiences with him.
All of which brings me back to that Cruiser event.
Since I wasn’t going to spending much time on preparing for the Faction War, the very least I could do was to revamp my cruiser squadron. I had a new Spitfire ready to drop into the line, replacing one of my ageing and ailing Buchis. That swap out worked very nicely thank you… I really do like those Spitfires.
But that was not the only business to which I needed to attend.
I did an article not so long ago on the new Tick class and if you recall, I really was undecided about it.
If you also recall, I did promise that I would test it thoroughly.
Well, here was a whole field of 70 tonners to test against, so now was the time for the ‘Penner’s Remembrance’ to get its first outing.
A few caveats to get out of the way first.
I was reasonably secure in my gold position, relying on my middle ranks of Spitfires to carry the day with regards to the KotM. Therefore the Remembrance was deliberately out of position in the front rank so it could be exposed to as much combat as possible.
That rank is also (due to the stupidity of the base designers) a weak rank of 4 so it is quite easy to outgun, even by folks of fewer levels due to their full ranks of 5 and the last rank having the empty slots.
The most important thing was to note that this was an interim test. I’m a hard task master when it comes to my cruisers, and Remembrance was currently only at level 86 out of 143. If it didn’t show promise, there was a good likelihood development would be discontinued.
Oh, and apart from Niode shields, it was going to be running crystal gear. It can get its proper kit once it’s a proven entity.
So, off we trot for our first trial in anger, only for me to face-palm seconds later when the first shot of the match blew the Remembrance apart with a critical strike.
Sometimes, you just know the gods are laughing at you.
Overall however, it wasn’t a bad set of tests.
Even only 3/5 baked, the heavier armour rating and superior shielding made it far more of a damage soak than the fully leveled Buchis it replaced.
In terms of overall performance of the line (bearing in mind it was my weakest by far) there was no discernible performance decrease in that rank as a whole.
Firepower wise, I was more than happy to see it get off at least a few shots; I had feared it would never fire at all, so anything along those lines was a bonus. It missed every time, but the fire control suite on a Tick is not its strong suite and it was never going to be a heavy hitter. At best, the few shots it got off would be one more repair attempt.
That’s not to say it didn’t do damage. The Reflect Shielding threw at least some damage back at the enemy, although I wouldn’t say enough to weaken them to the point of being vulnerable to a single shot kill.
One thing that struck me was that my initial observation of cruiser fights being short and vicious was in fact incorrect. Having the cream of the cruiser pilots assembled in one place to test against was a very definite advantage in this analysis. For those of us who are serious about it, we have invested far more in engines and chassis than those folk relying on a throw together crystal formation. As such, top notch Cruiser fights are far more balletic; fluid movement and evasion with telling shots far rarer than clean misses.
As such, they are more protracted, allowing the Tick class all the more time to ply it’s trade in support/repair mode.
Now this is the part where the tests got confusing, and I may need to pull it back into the workshop to check to make sure that the Med-bot modules are working correctly on it, because the repair functions on the Remembrance were definitely not behaving the way I would have expected.
If your formation goes into battle at less than 100%, the med bots don’t start repairing anything at all until more damage is taken.
If the mech underneath the Tick gets damaged, it will not be repaired ever.
If the Tick is damaged, it will not repair itself, unless it has first carried out repairs on a damaged mech above it in the line, in which case it will fully repair that mech (or that mech gets blown away), at which point it will repair itself.
Its perfectly happy to repair the mech above it, as long as the damage is new rather than from a previous fight.
If the above is indeed the way things are supposed to work, I hereby place a bounty on the design team for Med-bots, alive rather than dead and delivered to me so I can personally give them a good slap.
Anyway, at least the Med-bots do work after a fashion, and I was quite surprised to see that on at least two occasions, the Remembrance managed to pull it’s team mate back from the brink so it could withstand just one more set of damage before it was inevitably destroyed. The ability to take 3 hits rather than 2 or 2 rather than 1 for a cruiser is a big thing… it delivers far more opportunity to do damage to the enemy and to retain line integrity just those few vital seconds longer in the chance to break their rank.
When you add to that the fact that those Med-bots were only capable of repairing at perhaps 3/4 the maximum for my level, I’m honestly wondering just how long one could keep a mech in combat if they were working at full potential.
I get the feeling that looking at this thing as an individual mech is not the way to go about it. Not even to look at it as a mech that can aid other mechs. Because looking at it and comparing it as a unit by itself, it comes up short.
One on one, it can’t fire fast enough or accurately enough to win and the damage it does do has no multipliers outside what is added through equipment. Even if it gets off a lucky freeze shot, odds are that the opponent will unfreeze before the Tick can finish it off. Yes, it will damage its opposite number, but it will be under fire too regularly to be able to repair enough to get it to the point it will shut its attacker down due to reflected damage.
Assuming of course your Tick doesn’t have a retarded set of Med-bots like mine appears to have.
Instead, look at it as … a big fat ablative shield carried by the mech above. It keeps that mech in the fight, firing and fighting for just that much longer. For it to be able to allow its ‘holder’ to take just one more hit and fight for that much longer definitely alters the balance of an encounter. Remembrance was ‘only’ repairing at a rate of 16 per phase, and that is only 3/4s what it will do once leveled to the rest of the line. Who knows how many more hits it can ‘donate’.
And of course, in order to stop it from doing that, you have to batter the damn thing into submission (while it hurts you right back), bearing in mind it is the biggest cruiser class damage sink out there. Add in some decent Chassis modules and your opponent may have problems landing a shot in the first place.
So have I changed my opinion of it in any way?
Yes… yes I have.
I’d definitely say its an upgrade over a Buchis, so for that alone I will continue with this one and bring it up to full with a decent set of kit.
It doesn’t degrade the firepower of a line too much, so I’d be happy placing a single one in the rank. Not sure about more than that though, but that could simply be my fighting style. I’d have to test that separately, and that is a while off yet.
Do I know where it is likely going? Urm.. not yet. I originally had a spot chosen for it, but with the test runs throwing up unexpected results on the performance of my Med-bots, I shall have to revisit that. I definitely know where it isn’t going, but until I work out the repair situation, there are now a few possibilities.
Is it better than my existing cruisers?
No. Not yet, not by a long margin. As good as a Buchis, yes, and certainly should be better once leveled and kitted. But the other classes I use are too proven and do exactly what is asked of them in the positions they fill. The test runs proved that as well… Remembrance wasn’t the only thing being scrutinised.
So, while I have at least one more Tick sitting in the hanger, it is going to have to wait while more proven mechs get brought up to fill new base slots and replace my retiring Buchises..
(note to self, whats is the plural of a Buchis.. is it Buchii???)
I am however a little more comfortable with the overall Tick design, as long as I bear in mind to think of it in terms of overall squadron enhancement rather than just by itself.
* * * * * * * *
I’m sitting having a brew while doing the final edits to this article after having just come down from the mountain.
A while back a list was published with the naming conventions used for all the tonnage class events for KotMs. If memory serves correctly, the original list had weights from 50 up to 80 tons classified as cruiserweight.
The one I’ve just completed would have been classified as a cruiser event on the original list, although it is now classified as a Brawler event.
Meh, call it what you like, another cruiser event, another gold. The run continues.
The difference this time though is that I’d never seen a 75 ton event before. It was therefore the only cruiser weight bracket I had never won.
So now to carry on the tradition of naming. Normally it would be an event reminder, seeing as how nobody challenged the summit successfully and made me earn it the hard way.
But seeing as how this is the final card needed to make the full hand of cruiser titles, it should probably get a better name.
Not so much a run then.
How about a Royal Flush?