Heavy Gear Spotlight – Spitting Cobra

About Heavy Gear Spotlight

blogpost-imag0310Code Name: Spitting Cobra

Faction: South

Manufacturer: Territorial Arms

Height: 5.0 meters

Weight: 8,990 kg


Baconradar’s Summary: High end fire support gear with assault variants

 

Strengths

  • Autopilot coupled with forward observation means you get to fire two indirect weapons per turn
  • Stock model is relatively cost efficient and flexible with two good long range indirect weapons
  • AR 8 at 4/2 makes the Cobra hard to cripple without dedicated heavy weapons or massed AP
  • Strong AoE weapons allow you to play the odds against massed enemies
  • Variants transform the Cobra into a heavy assault gear or dedicated guided weapon platform, with option for SatUp too

Weaknesses

  • Stock model is in direct competition with the Python, which is just as good at fire support but 1TV cheaper
  • Several variants are overpriced or underpowered, especially when compared with the Grizzly’s options
  • The MAR doesn’t synergise with the South’s excellent TD:2 recon gears
  • At 4/5 W/G it’s one of the slowest units in the game

Best Uses

  1. Dedicated fire support/artillery. Like the Grizzly, the Cobra is an obvious pick to sit back on standby and use autopilot to effectively double its actions. Unlike the Grizzly, the Spitting Cobra has 2 genuine long range artillery weapons – the LGM and the MAR. This means it gets to stay further back and go braced more often, though note that going braced doesn’t actually help much with the MAR, since you’ll be at -1d6 for indirect and -1d6 against secondary targets even assuming you’re in optimal range. Still, being able to fire a full 72” with both weapons can be extremely useful and the braced stance works just fine with the LGM, provided you are getting your FO from a unit with TD. Note that the South has access to units with TD:2, including the superb Iguana Chatterbox, arguably the best recon unit in the game. You’ll need to get line of sight with the recon units to make use of that TD, but only against the primary target. So if you can’t get LoS on your intended target but can see the ground next to him, you can still fire your LGM and ignore the range penalty, ending up with just -1d6 for secondary target; this isn’t great, but it’s nice to have the option where you’d otherwise be unable to make use of your +1d6 for braced. Still, the optimal play here is to go braced and launch long range attacks with a whopping 5d6 against the primary target with the LGM, plus 1 or 2d6 against primary with the MAR and then 2d6 against secondaries with the LGM and 1d6 with the MAR. Against things which rely on ECM defence or have armour below 9, this is a devastating attack. The major knock against using a Spitting Cobra for this is that the Python is a point cheaper and in this role does exactly the same thing. So if you want to do this (and nothing else) with your Cobras, get Pythons instead.
  2. Close fire support. I don’t have that much more to say here than I did for the Grizzly. This role could potentially make the most of everything good about the Spitting Cobra, making use of autopilot after a combat speed move to keep pace with the troopers and either launch shorter ranged double indirect attacks off FO (especially the MAR, which doesn’t much care if you’re braced or not), or snap fire the HAC when the opportunity comes up and still have one action to indirect fire the LGM or MAR (as appropriate) in response to FO. I’d say the Spitting Cobra is slightly worse than the Grizzly in this role, simply because it lacks the PG for snap firing, has a slightly worse anti infantry weapon in the MMG and is frankly just a better artillery gear which doesn’t really need to go close support to be worth the points.
  3. Assault. Like the Grizzly, the Spitting Cobra’s beefy 8 armour, HAC, and MRP make it a fine assault gear. The fact the MRP isn’t linked is basically irrelevant because you won’t be rolling enough d6 for it to matter and the MAR with its massive AE of 5” will sometimes be worth firing rather than the MRP, especially since going top speed is attractive to an assault gear and in that case the MAR is no less accurate than the MRP. However the real assault prowess of the Spitting Cobra, as with the Grizzly, comes from its variants. That said, like the Grizzly, a Spitting Cobra in an assault role is in direct competition with cheaper gears which are just as good at the role if not better – in this case the Badlands Python and the Desert Viper.

Variants

Striking Cobra: Ah, the Striking Cobra. Truly one of the worst variants in the game. For the same cost as the base Spitting Cobra you swap your HAC for a MBZ and lose BOTH of your artillery weapons. Yes, you heard right. You go from having a strong and varied lineup of weapons which work in a variety of situations and make the most of autopilot, to having basically two short range weapons and a very slim chance of using autopilot profitably. You also go from having a blast weapon to not having one at all. So are there any benefits of this variant? Well, yes, it gives you an AP:3 weapon, which is relevant if you absolutely need to hurt heavy armour. But the Cobra is a poor chassis for fighting heavy armour; it relies on armour rather than small profile, agility, or piloting, it’s one of the slowest units in the game so forget about flanking, and it will rarely find itself in a position to go braced and fire at optimal range against a tank to optimise its MoS, which is essential with high AP weapons. If you want a high-end tank hunter then consider the Strike Diamondback which is cheaper, faster, still packs the MBZ, and has airdrop so it can get both flank and elevated bonuses with relative ease. Alternately, there are other Spitting Cobra variants which are much better against tanks (and in general) than this rather overpriced and undergunned gear.

To add insult to injury, the Grizzly Destroyer, which is the Northern equivalent to the Striking Cobra, only costs 1 more point than the base model, doesn’t lose its precious MGM, and swaps its HAC for a HBZ, which is at least a rare and intimidating weapon.

Junglemower Cobra: This is another variant which loses a weapon from the base model, but here it’s much more tolerable. For +1 TV you swap your HAC for a HRC and lose the MRP. This is an interesting variant because it’s trying to be two things at once – on the one hand the HRC is a superb assault weapon, genuinely one of the best ways of killing trooper, strike, and pesky agile gears. The combination of burst:2 and split:2 is a strong one and means you will fairly often get the chance to cripple or kill 2 troopers with one activation. As a sidenote, it should be noted that the HRC isn’t really the short range weapon that it seems – if you compare it with the HAC it is flat out superior from 0-12 inches, equal 13-18, then superior again 19-24. It’s true it can’t range beyond 24, but it’s completely happy to fire in suboptimal ranges, unlike bazookas or similar. However the Junglemower loses another good assault weapon in the form of the MRP – this is heavily mitigated by the fact that the MAR is just as good if you aren’t bracing, flanking, or elevated, none of which this gear is great at. Still, if you’re using the Junglemower as an assault gear the problem is familiar; you’re still paying for the autopilot and those two indirect, long-range weapons. In an ideal world the Junglemower would be more like the Striking Cobra, not costing any extra, keeping the MRP, and losing the artillery. The real problem here, to my mind, is that for 4 TV more, you could have the King Cobra Gunner which in my opinion easily packs more than 4TV worth of upgrades over the Junglemower, as a heavy assault gear.

Support Cobra: Another bad one I’m afraid. For +1TV you lose your MMG and swap your LGM and MAR weapons for a Light Field Gun. The basic problem here is clear – you’ve just made it much harder to actually benefit from autopilot, since you only have the one genuine long range indirect weapon. You can still fire your MRP, but that’s strictly inferior to the MAR when firing indirect. As an artillery weapon the LFG is basically inferior to the MAR, having shorter range and only 3 rather than 5 AE, but gaining a choice between AS (which is utterly useless) and AP:1, which is interesting, but isn’t what you want from a weapon like this that will have low MoS and is on an expensive model. The one thing the LFG does offer is that it can be fired ballistic, much like a MRP. In fact it’s best to think of it as a longer range MRP with smaller AE, best fired from braced at targets in optimal range so you’re getting 3d6 on primary, 2d6 on secondaries. That really makes it more of a frontline, assault or close support weapon, quite counterintuitive given the look of the model. It also means it’s sort of a bad combo with the MRP which does roughly the same job. Even in its best role, I prefer to stock Spitting Cobra quite a bit.

Junglemower Support Cobra: Wow, now we’re cutting down that long list of weapons. For +1TV you swap the HAC for a HRC, lose the MMG and MRP, and swap the MAR and LGM for the LFG. On paper, given what I’ve already said about the Junglemower and especially the Support Cobra, this seems really terrible. But it’s actually not all bad, provided you realise this is a specialised assault gear with a focused set of weapons. As I said in the review of the Junglemower Cobra, what you really want is to ditch the artillery weapons and have your MRP back for no extra cost. Well, you nearly get that with the Junglemower Support Cobra. The HRC and the LFG make good ballistic fire choices at medium/close range and give you enough variety to take on most targets – the real thing that hurts is the lack of a blast weapon, and this isn’t the sort of gear you’re likely to want to buy a LHG for. Overall I think this is still not a great choice, and compares badly with the King Cobra and other assault options like the Desert Viper. The biggest problem here is actually that the look of the Support Cobra model somehow convinces people that it’s an artillery piece, not an assault gear, and that applies equally to this variant.

Artillery Cobra: We’re still in the world of extreme specialisation here. For +1TV you lose the MMG and the MRP and swap the LGM and MAR for the MFM, but you also get counter battery sensors (CBS). First I want to say that although this variant has no official model, it’s really easy to make. You just take off the MRP, LGM, and MAR and stick the medium sized mortar from a Grizzly or Badlands Python on the back. This isn’t even terribly hard to magnetise. If you want to represent CBS then you can stick an ECM/Satup pod of some kind on the collar where the MRP would be. That said, is it worth taking an Artillery Cobra? Well it has a hard time making use of autopilot which makes it a bad choice as a dedicated artillery unit, despite its name. In fact the only real hope to use autopilot is to field it in a close support role where it may be able to get some snap fire off with its HAC. The main feature of this variant is the CBS which is a very strong ability for three reasons. Firstly it means anything in formation with the CBS unit can snap fire at things making indirect attacks. Secondly it doesn’t matter what the enemy using indirect attacks is targeting or where they are, if they make an indirect attack you may snap fire at them (provided you have an indirect weapon and are in range). Thirdly the targets of your snap fire get no cover unless it overlaps them. What this means is that by keeping the Artillery Cobra in formation with other units, especially those with two indirect weapons and autopilot which have gone on standby, you can rain death on anything that dares to use an indirect weapon. Note this does NOT work against missile weapons, only indirect, so forget about punishing ATM or AVM users. Now this makes the Artillery Cobra tempting to put with a dedicated fire support unit, but it also works well in a close support role where it’s better able to use its own autopilot trait. Overall I’d say the Artillery Cobra is only worth taking if you’re sure you’ll be able to use the CBS. Otherwise it’s simply not cost-effective – I mean compare it with the Badlands Python, which is 4 TV cheaper and the only difference is a point of hull, lack of CBS/autopilot, and the fact the Badlands Python still has its MRP.

Slashing Cobra: Getting into the more expensive variants now, here for +2 TV you lose the MRP and swap the MAR for the MATM. The use case for the Slashing Cobra is absolutely crystal clear – go on standby braced and receive a forward observation from one of the South’s TD:2 units. Both your artillery weapons are guided, both have excellent range, and both are superb at killing single gears. They rarely get any cover against the LGM because it’s blast and it’s not that hard to give them no cover against the MATM either if you can position your TD unit correctly. You’ll be rolling 5 dice on both and you can expect that to certainly cripple and usually kill nice expensive targets like SF gears, other fire support gears, even assault gears like the Kodiak. Then there’s the AP:4 on the MATM, which for once isn’t that likely to be wasted because of the number of dice you’ll be rolling. This is real high end tank killing equipment, giving you a way of actually worrying extremely tough targets like the Aller. It’s debatable whether this approach is actually better than using a plethora of cheaper units with lower value AP weapons, but I am certain it’s pretty cost effective, provided you can keep your TD units alive and you don’t get obsessed with killing the big tanks. The ideal scenario is to keep your Slashing Cobras back on braced standby and get two forward observations a turn – one on a gear or cluster of gears as a target for the lgm, one on a heavily armoured target for the MATMs, but even if you can’t manage this you’re still an absolute murderer of gears, and even the lighter striders and tanks. All things considered I think the Slashing Cobra, combined with TD:2 units, is one of the best artillery units in the game. Highly recommended.

Flamm Cobra: Toasty! One of my favourite variants in the game. For +2 TV you swap HAC for HFL, MRP for MARP (fire:2), and MAR for HAR (fire:2). You also get Resist:F, but let’s face it, that’s essentially irrelevant. The fact this variant is the only one to get an extra SK UA code suggests it might be an assault specialist, but that actually isn’t the case. After all the Flamm Cobra, ignoring cost, is a strictly better artillery unit than the Spitting Cobra – it has the same autopilot and LGM, but it has significantly improved artillery rockets. Going from 8 to 9 PEN is a big step up and on top of that you do an extra 1 damage on average regardless of armour. Is that worth the +2 TV? For me, yes it is, at least against forces with lots of clustered targets for my HAR. But the Flamm Cobra can do so much more than that. You see the HAR doesn’t really benefit that much from being braced and if you move closer to the enemy you potentially get access to both the HFL and MAPR (fire:2). Both are utterly brutal against infantry and capable of hurting more heavily armoured things in their AE too, especially the fire:4 on the HFL. So we’re talking about a unit which is actually pretty agnostic what it’s shooting, provided they’re somewhat clustered – unlike most AE weapons you don’t have to think ‘well I can fire here and hit 4 things, but 2 of them are infantry and can only take 1 damage, or have too high AR and won’t take any’. This makes the Flamm Cobra pretty scary and a genuine deterrent to clustering or swarming an area – especially common with objectives. The best use for this thing is to go combat speed and standby for FO, then once you get closer, decide on the fly where you can best apply your AE weapons and whether they’ll be via FO or not. Remember that if you’re within 36” of your targets you can fire the HAR and MAPR off a standby, both with the same terrifying AE of 5”. Even tank groups can be made to suffer this way, and you’ll probably end up killing their escorts or incidental other models as you blaze away. Another strong recommendation from me, but do keep in mind that in order to get the most out of the gear you want it to transition from artillery, to close support, then possibly to assault, as the situation dictates.

Razorfang Cobra: An upgrade rather than a variant, available only to the commander. For +1 TV you get SatUp 6+. Now normally I’m really not very excited by SatUp, but in the case of the South it means you can take a Chatterbox Iguana in your Support Unit and receive TD:2 FO comms which always succeed and are entirely immune to ECM interference, all while keeping the Chatterbox constantly in formation. Additionally, if you have a group of Cobra variants with different roles, SatUp with SatUp recon in your support unit can help you keep everyone in formation and benefit from powerful orders like coordinated fire. Given this, I think the Razorfang upgrade is well worth it, though only if you are taking SatUp recon units as well.

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