Heavy Gear Spotlight – Hussar

About Heavy Gear Spotlight

2017-jan-hussar

Code Name: Hussar

Faction: NuCoal

Manufacturer: Javelin Strategic Industries

Height: 10 meters

Weight: 65,025 kg


Baconradar’s Summary: A multi-ranged gearstrider with excellent budget variants

Strengths

  • 2 actions with 2 powerful primary weapons

  • AR 10 at 4/4 makes it the lightest gearstrider, but still virtually immune to many non-AP weapons

  • Brawler:1 and a HVB make it one of the best melee units in the game

  • 3” silhouette combined with low profile allows you to use cover while peeking out to see over that of your target

  • Variants offer some real TV savings and the chance to specialise

Weaknesses

  • As an expensive single model it’s vulnerable to sensor jamming ECM attacks or haywire weapons

  • Lacks the versatility and board coverage of multiple cheaper models

  • Very restrictive UA code

  • Stock model and two variants compete unfavourably with the Voltigeur tank

  • Tank gun (*TG) armed models are pulled in too many directions

Best Uses

  1. Assault: The Hussar’s back turret changes between variants which has a pretty profound effect on the best use of the model. If you aren’t making use of that back turret every turn (unless in melee) then you’re probably doing something wrong. That said, the Hussar always has its HRC and its HVB with brawler:1 (and much less important HMG) which coupled with its heavy armour and relatively slow movement make it a candidate for assault duties. You are missing an AE weapon (ideally with blast) to displace ECM defended targets, though the HRC is one of the most accurate weapons in the game and can often overcome all those bonus defence dice. That extra bit of movement speed over other heavy assault units should allow you to stick to combat speed more often, though again the HRC’s burst:2 means it’s actually pretty effective even at top speed, provided you don’t split your fire. Compared with the Drake or Cataphract the Hussar can much more effectively use cover due to its low profile trait and is less of a melee force (though still very strong there) which lends itself to a slightly slower more methodical advance on the enemy, or even getting in cover near to the target and bracing to plug away at them. The drawback is that the linked LTG just isn’t an assault weapon. It doesn’t do well against targets in cover because it lacks burst or blast, it becomes almost impossible to hit if they have some ECM defence, and it’s generally just a different type of weapon than the HRC. With any type of TG you want to sit back, ideally brace, and make use of that great range. There is no overlap at all between the optimal ranges of the HRC and the LTG, with the LTG’s minimum optimal range being a very long 18”, inside of which it just struggles to hit anything. This lends the Hussar some flexibility in that it’s happy at melee, close/medium, and medium/long range, but as always that makes the model less cost effective and pulls it in too many different directions. That said, see the discussion of variants for the final verdict on the Hussar as an assault unit.
  2. Central anchor: Nucoal is a force which prizes mobility, with high move values, hover, jetpack, jumpjets, airdrop, and climber all featuring prominently in their lineup. The Hussar is a very different beast. It has no special deployment options and while its 5/6 movement beats the more typical 4/5 of heavy armour, it can’t really compete with all these NuCoal flankers. Instead it is best suited to holding the centre of your battle line, combining its durability with a flexible silhouette (tall to shoot targets, short to avoid attacks) and a pair of powerful weapons. Unlike the Voltigeur the Hussar isn’t concerned with the enemy getting close and certainly not with melee, so once it’s in position it won’t need to awkwardly reverse and it can happily press forward at any time. This is important because the presence of the Hussar secures the position of your flankers, gives them a safe space if they need to retreat, protects any fire support elements you’ve deployed, and allows you to contest central objectives. In this role the linked LTG is less problematic since you are likely to have plenty of targets for both this and the HRC (remember the HRC is just as good as a HAC at 12-18” and better at 18-24”). While I think the Hussar as an acceptable choice in this role it still can’t cope with ECM defence and it suffers badly from comparison with the Voltigeur. The Voltigeur costs only 3 TV more and has very similar stats – it’s a little slower and less manoeuvrable but it’s a lot tougher, the jump from 10 to 11 AR and 4/4 to 5/3 making a really surprising difference. It also packs an extra action, making it quite a bit cheaper per action, and is armed with the MLC and HABM, both of which are excellent weapons (easily the match of the HRC) and extremely well suited to this role. The Hussar has a huge advantage in melee and that does mean you won’t have to back away from advancing melee units and collapse your centre, but if you’re aware of this issue with the Voltigeur it isn’t too hard to mitigate. The issue of poor comparison with the Voltigeur also comes up for two of the variants, as you’ll see below.

Variants

Hussar Spear: For -3 TV you swap the linked LTG for a linked HRP. The change of cost to 22 TV is almost more important than the weapon swap. At this price the Hussar feels like it’s entered a new class, that of ‘budget gearstrider’. It still fulfils the basic gearstrider functions of being heavily armoured, carrying strong weapons, and being dangerous in melee, but it sits between elite heavy gears like the King Cobra and the three ‘true’ gearstriders. Reducing the cost by so much mitigates some of the problems inherent to a single expensive model (concentrating your points in one area of the board, sensor jamming/haywire, massed AP) and offsets the problem of the highly restrictive UA code by making it easier to justify a combat group of two Hussars. So what about the weapon swap? Well we’re clearly specialising here, swapping out a dedicated long range sniper weapon for a dedicated short/medium range one which combos well with the HRC. The fact that the HRP is linked is, as is often the case, very unexciting, but simply having a HRP is plenty exciting enough in my opinion. Having an AE weapon is both a big deal against ECM and when assaulting. With this, the Hussar is really only missing blast from our assault unit checklist.

Hussar Skyhammer: For -1 TV you swap the linked LTG for a linked HABM. As with the stock model, the problem is that the Voltigeur, which is only 4 TV extra, gives you access to a HABM (unlinked, but since this is an AE weapon that’s largely irrelevant) and combines this with two other long range weapons and three actions so it can fire them all, while being considerably tougher and happier to sit at range going braced. The Skyhammer can be used as an assault unit in a similar way to the Spear and in that role having blast on the HABM is very welcome, but having 2 less PEN does hurt, and there’s the feeling that you aren’t making best use of the HABM’s range and guided trait. I don’t think the variant is bad and it does have something of a niche if you know, for example, that your opponent is fielding lots of En Koreshi or Morgana FLAILs. It just sits a little uncomfortably between the Spear and the Voltigeur.

Hussar Lance: For -2 TV you swap the linked LTG for a linked HRC (split:3). As with the Spear, you’re in budget gearstrider territory. This is my favourite Hussar variant both because it is extremely specialised and because I really, really like the look of the model. Having two HRCs, one of which is linked (which is actually relevant because you will routinely be rolling 3 or 4d6), gives you a terrifying amount of anti-gear firepower against anything within 24”. Remember that unlike most weapons RCs are actually fine in suboptimal range provided you aren’t also going top speed and using the split fire feature. As an aside on split fire, especially important given the linked HRC turret has the unique split:3 trait, note that all the targets have to be within 6” of each other. In practice that means that split fire is a little bit like having an AE:3 weapon aimed at the ground (all your targets are, in effect, secondary targets) and it’s harder than you might think to get 3 sensible targets under that ‘template’. That said there is something special about split:3 when you can land it, because while split:2 gives you -1d6 on both rolls for only one additional target, split:3 has the same malus but for three targets, making it much more justifiable in terms of total dice rolled and potential damage inflicted. This all sounds great, but isn’t there always a price to be paid when specialising? Well, yes, and in the case of the Hussar Lance you’ve really, really pared down – only 2 different types of ranged weapon on a 2 action model, and one of them is the rarely worthwhile HMG. You have nothing beyond the range of 24”, nothing suitable against heavy armour outside of melee, and nothing with AE to negate ECM defence, or blast to negate cover. You do always have your melee though, which gets you around all of these issues, and RCs are rather unique in that they can simply roll enough dice to get around cover and ECM (though probably not both combined) and use split to maximise damage when enemies cluster. All in all the Hussar Lance is a decent assault unit, but lacks some of the features needed to truly excel there. Where it really shines is in the specific role of Gear Killer – a model completely devoted to savaging light, trooper, strike, or heavy gears. It has more flexibility than the Hussar Spear to choose between trying to spread damage across multiple gears or focus on killing one, and unlike with some multi-action units you aren’t making a compromise with either action to make the other useful. The Lance is perfectly content to stay 12” away from some gears, possibly low profiling behind cover, and open up on them turn after turn with devastating results. In the role of Gear Killer it is unparalleled in the NuCoal lineup and arguably has no equal in any force for its cost. Yes, the combination of dual HRCs, durability, and strong melee is simply that good.

Hussar Hammer: For +2 TV you swap the linked LTG for a HTG. Ignoring cost, I definitely prefer the HTG over the linked LTG because even though actually hitting the target is arguably the most important thing with a tank gun, the linked status is unlikely to matter during the course of a game, whereas those two extra points of penetration certainly should. Getting to PEN:11 means it’s quite feasible to cripple any gear you hit and you don’t have to rely on AP to damage other striders or light tanks, both of which are pretty sensible targets. Once again though, the problem is that the Voltigeur can carry the exact same HTG and is a better fit to make best use of it, while only costing 3 more TV. As such it’s hard to recommend taking the Hammer.

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