About Heavy Gear Spotlight
Code Name: Grizzly
Faction: The North
Manufacturer: Northco / Shaian
Height: 5.1 meters
Weight: 9,210 kg
Baconradar’s Summary: High end fire support and assault gear
- Autopilot coupled with forward observation means you get to fire two indirect weapons per turn
- Some well costed variants, with SatUp available too
- Extremely well rounded armament capable of dealing with every type of gear, infantry, and ECM defence
- The MGM is an absolute slayer of gears when coupled with TD, with that extra point of PEN over the LGM making a big practical difference
- AR 8 at 4/2 makes the Grizzly hard to cripple without dedicated heavy weapons or massed AP
- Seriously overcosted as an assault gear compared with alternatives like the Bear
- Lacks a second longrange/specialised artillery weapon to make best use of autopilot
- That varied armament comes at a premium, making the gear cost inefficient at any one thing
- At 4/5 W/G it’s one of the slowest units in the game
- Dedicated fire support/artillery. The easiest and most cost efficient use of the Grizzly is, unsurprisingly, to make use of autopilot to effectively double its actions. By going on standby or standby (braced) and then receiving a forward observation from one of the many cost effective Northern recon gears you get to fire your best weapon (the MGM) and, provided the target is in range, the MRP. This can be absolutely devastating to a squad of gears which are too tightly clustered and fall within the 3 or 4 inch radius of those indirect weapons. Now to be clear, the MRP isn’t a very good indirect weapon. It doesn’t have good range, it doesn’t have blast (so the targets get cover from the Grizzly’s POV unless the FO unit can see them with no cover at all – and that only applies to the FO target, not stuff in the AoE) and it doesn’t have guided, so you’re almost always going to be rolling a single d6 on each unit hit, which of course makes the linked status irrelevant. However the MGM is absolutely bananas. You use a ferret (only 5 TV!) to FO with TD and fire from standby (braced) and we’re talking 4d6 against the primary and 2d6 against each secondary target, plus because of blast the primary gets no cover and its likely many of the secondaries won’t either. Don’t worry too much if sometimes the only weapon you can fire is the MGM, as long as you have TD and it isn’t always just the MGM, then it isn’t so bad.
- Close fire support. This is a tricky role to get the most out of, but it has the potential to make use of all of the gear’s strengths and be the best usage possible. Rather than hanging back and going braced (standby) then waiting for FO comms to come in, the idea here is to advance in formation with your trooper gears and hit targets of opportunity with your AoE weapons, or use regular standby and use one action to snap fire your HAC at anyone who shoots the troopers and the other action to fire the MGM or MRP off an FO, or even snap fire your PG. The fact that the Grizzly is extremely flexible, able to inflict damage effectively at multiple ranges and against multiple types of unit, does make it a good support unit pick for a group of Hunters, Tigers etc.
- Assault! The Grizzly, on paper, has many of the things you want from an assault gear capable of steadily closing on and subsequently destroying enemy formations. It is tough enough (AR:8 4/2) that it doesn’t always need to be hiding behind cover (especially the Rabid), it has a single gear killing weapon to fire as it advances (the HAC), it has a solid AoE weapon to hit entire combat groups (MRP, but ignore the fact it’s linked, that’s basically irrelevant), a blast weapon to hit targets in cover (MGM), and it has weapons suited to destroying multiple types of unit. The problem here is that if you’re using the Grizzly as an assault gear, you’re still paying for a load of stuff you aren’t actually using. Compare with the Bear (especially the Mauler), which is 4 TV cheaper, has effectively the same assault loadout, and more or less the same stats but is faster.
Rabid: This is in my opinion the most interesting of the Grizzly variants, costing no extra TV and representing a pretty strong shift in the role of the unit, to dedicated assault. This is particularly relevant for a unit whose biggest weakness is its lack of specialisation. The Rabid swaps the HAC for the MGL, the MGM for the MFM, and adds field armour. For an assault unit these are all good changes. The MGL gives the Grizzly access to a ballistic weapon with blast, which affords it the ability to fire on a target in cover within 12” without giving up d6 to the indirect trait. The MFM is a strict upgrade on the MGM if you aren’t going to go on standby and wait for TD, and the field armour improves your ability to just walk through the open. A quick digression – field armour is an interesting trait which varies in value depending on the AR the unit has, but is generally best on a unit with fairly low AR (where it acts like an extra point of AR) or very high AR (where it serves the important role of reducing AP damage). The Grizzly sits in the middle and thus the field armour is just OK – sometimes it will reduce 2 damage to 1, either from a MOS+PEN:10 attack or an AP:2 attack like a LBZ, and on those occasions you’ll think it’s amazing, but usually it’s something like having an extra half point of AR. Overall I’d definitely take the Mauler Bear over the Rabid Grizzly, but I am happy that DP9 didn’t make the Rabid cost +1TV and it is a useful and interesting variant.
Destroyer: This is another attempt to impose a specialisation on the Grizzly, but in my opinion it rather fails. At first sight the HBZ (a very rare weapon, especially outside the North) is very tempting – PEN:9 and a whopping AP:4. But rather than cooing over the stats, let’s consider what actually happens in the game. Firstly, the AP only matters for units with AR:10+. Secondly, how often are you going to get MOS:4 against a tank with this weapon? Keep in mind the Grizzly is very slow and the optimal range of the HBZ is only 12”. The truth is that against heavy armour the HBZ is barely better than the MBZ and if you want to fire bazookas at tanks there are MUCH more cost efficient and effective units for that. If you insist on having a HBZ there’s the Destroyer Dingo which is 2 TV cheaper, has airdrop (for flanking and elevation) and brawler:1 with a MSG, making it a much better high-end tank hunter. The truth is that swapping the HAC for the HBZ actually makes the Grizzly even more of an all-rounder (giving it a way to hurt heavy armour), which really isn’t what you want out of a variant of a gear that already suffers from being too much of a jack of all trades. That said, I again commend DP9 for realising this shouldn’t cost +1TV or need the removal of any of the Grizzly’s other weapons. This is in stark contrast with the frankly awful southern Striking Cobra which loses 2 weapons and suffers a downgrade from HAC to MBZ for the same TV as stock. Overall you don’t want to be using a Grizzly as a tank hunter, but this variant is fairly priced if you must have that AP weapon.
Crossbow: In my opinion this variant is going to be misused by a lot of people who will have it sit back with standby (braced) and chain off FOs with TD:1. Don’t get me wrong, you do want to get it to chain off that sweet TD bonus, but you should actually treat this guy as a Close Fire Support gear. Why? Because in order for it to be worth the points it needs to be more than just a single MATM shot per turn. It needs to be using the other strengths of the Grizzly – its toughness and its HAC. By having the Crossbow advance and go on standby you can still chain the MATM off a TD but you can also snap fire the HAC and you’ll get yourself in optimal range for the MATM which is essential if your TD units are killed. People tend to forget that ATMs are still good weapons when fired without FO, provided you’re in optimal. I personally don’t think this variant is particularly good value at +1 TV because it’s harder to make good use of autopilot with only one indirect weapon and you lose all your AoE weapons.
Thunder: Pretty simple, you get SatUp and EW:5+ for one extra TV. The obvious use is with a combat group of Grizzlies supported by a recon unit or two which also have SatUp. These recon units can then send ECM-proof FO comms to the Thunder Grizzly to be distributed amongst the others. The problem with this is that Northern SatUp recon units don’t have TD. Not a single one. And you really do want that TD. Another use is to have the recon units stay in formation with advancing Grizzlies which keeps them in formation with the leader so they can benefit from orders etc. The SatUp recon units tend to be very expensive, but provide other nice benefits like strong ECM or ECCM. Overall it’s a situationally useful upgrade, but I wouldn’t take it if you just plan on being regular Fire Support.