Code Name: Jaguar
Faction: The North
Height: 4.6 meters
Weight: 7,123 kg
Baconradar’s Summary: A good strike gear with some synergistic variants
At W:6 G:7 with airdrop it has good mobility
Decent survivability with AR:6, PI:3+, and Agile on a 1.5” silhouette
Good UA variety, with the stock model in RC and all available in PT
Airdrop trait allows it to get flank or elevated which synergises with GU:3+
Very well rounded and versatile with an uncommonly good long range variant
The LRP is underwhelming and doesn’t make the most of that GU:3+ skill
Somewhat under-gunned for the cost
Unspecialised – not the most cost effective way of doing any one thing
A poor choice against heavy armour
Better skill ratings are nice, but usually only a marginal advantage
- Strike Gear: So let’s get this out the way first – the stock Jaguar is a Black Mamba with 1 lower AR and 1 lower TV cost. This has only mattered if one of your Jaguars becomes crippled or destroyed during the game, which isn’t a sure thing, but generally the Black Mamba is the better model for the cost. I recommend reading my spotlight on the Black Mamba because much of it is relevant here, but to recap the purpose of a strike gear: they must be flexible, mobile, have decent survival prospects, and better offensive output than basic trooper gears. The Jaguar clearly meets these requirements and does so for 10 TV. Rather than rehashing points made in the Black Mamba spotlight, lets dissect what having AR:6 rather than 7 actually means. Well, firstly it means the Jaguar is a little more fond of having cover and minimising the dice rolled against it, because it relies more on making the opponent miss, particularly given how common PEN:7 or 8 weapons are. This means it should be used a little more cautiously than its Southern cousin and you’ll have to pay a little more attention to optimal ranges. This will generally lead to staying slightly further away from your target than the Mamba, and that’s something I’ll return to in discussion of the variants. You’ll also need to treat certain weapons as a credible threat where the Mamba could realistically just ignore them – PEN:5 weapons like the HMG, MIS, and HIW can all get marginal hits from MoS:1 and do a point of damage on MoS:2, and at PEN:6 you’re taking damage equal to MoS above 0. But most important to consider is that given your reliance on agile, taking a blast weapon like the LGL on is much less appealing. A typical LGL shot will do an average of 0.92 damage to a Mamba, but a considerably more problematic 1.38 to a Jaguar. In terms of competition in this role the main direct alternative is the Leopard, which I generally prefer for its powerful climber trait, lower pricetag, and better offensive arsenal.
- Troop Hunter: Once again I strongly recommend you read the Black Mamba article for discussion of this role. The Jaguar can still perform it by picking its fights carefully and edging out the Jagers, Chasseurs etc with a mix of better positioning, agile, and a more powerful primary weapon, but it doesn’t have the same ability to simply exchange fire with troopers as the Black Mamba because of its lighter armour. It’s still a viable and useful role for the gear to fulfil, you’re just going to have to be more careful about it. You should be especially careful if taking on the *GL armed troopers like the Brawler Jager, Desert Viper, Grenadier Chasseur etc and maintain distance to pick at them with your MAC and avoid them ever getting 2d6 on your Jag. Remember that if you never have a Jaguar crippled or destroyed then they are strictly better than Mambas and you beat those troopers in a cost effective way.
Destroyer Jaguar: For +2TV you swap your MAC for a MBZ. This is the classic Northern bazooka upgrade; nearly always more powerful than those of the South. The problem here is that, generally speaking, a MBZ tends to be valued at 1 more TV than a MAC, not 2. So the question becomes whether there’s something about the Jaguar that makes the MBZ particularly valuable here. The Jag is certainly good at flanking tanks and getting good MoS – if it can flank it can expect to be rolling 3 or 4d6 against a tank and scoring an average damage of 1.53 or 2.03 – compare this with the Para Strike Hunter’s LBZ which does 1.04 or 1.31 and remember the Jaguar is better at getting that flank to begin with. But is that worth the pretty hefty 12TV cost, and do we really want to be closing in to MBZ optimal range with the Jaguar? My feeling is that there are better, more specialised tank hunter options, but the Destroyer Jaguar isn’t a terrible purchase provided you know you’ll be able to use it against heavy armour. It’s very hard indeed for a tank to avoid having this gear flank it and do damage, but doing so will definitely put your Jaguar at risk and it’s perhaps just a touch too fragile to get away with it.
Flash Jaguar: For +1TV you swap your MAC for a LLC. The LLC is a big step up over the MAC beyond 18” sporting 1 extra PEN, precise, and the ability to hit targets in the 36-72” range bracket. The jump from PEN:7 to 8 is a big one in a typical HGB game – I’m a big fan of this weapon for its ability to nail agile targets and usually deal enough damage to cripple them, and it has good synergy with the Jaguar, which prefers to keep a bit of distance from its target. It’s a perfectly legitimate strategy to airdrop Flash Jaguars on top of a building, use the lip as cover and snipe targets across the battlefield from braced, giving you 4d6 at skill 3+ or 2+ in optimal (which extends all the way out to 36”). That said if you do so you aren’t necessarily going to make the most of the Jaguar’s speed and agility, so a better plan is probably to move along the edge of the battlefield and rake more central enemy units with flank fire. It’s not quite what I would describe as a match made in heaven, but it’s definitely a synergistic weapon and a strong variant overall. I’d usually take this over the stock model.
Sniper Jaguar: For +1TV you swap your MAC for a HRF. I think this is best compared to the Flash Jaguar rather than stock, because the two are in quite clear competition. The LLC is pretty clearly the longer range weapon of the two, but let’s consider each range bracket. At 0-12” the LLC has +1d6 but -1 PEN, which makes it significantly better as it’s more likely to hit and about as likely to do the same damage as the HRF if it does hit. At 12-24” both are in optimal so it’s a comparison of +1 gunnery vs +1 PEN – here let’s consider a good target for both, 2d6 vs the Southern Black Mamba behind light cover. With the HRF your’re looking at 1.23 avg damage, versus 0.97 for the LLC. Crucially the HRF has about an extra 50% chance over the LLC of dealing 3 damage and thus crippling the Mamba. At 24-48” the LLC is better, just as it was at 0-12”, and beyond 48” it can reach targets the HRF simply can’t. Overall I have a slight preference for the LLC but it’s worth remembering that 12-24” is a pretty common range band (especially if you airdropped) and the HRF is better here against the sort of targets the Jaguar should be hunting. Ironically the Flash is the better sniper of the two variants, working well up on a building or firing down narrow lanes between terrain, while the Sniper Jaguar is better suited working in closer to get flank and potentially use the LRP on clustered targets.
Assault Jaguar: For +1TV you swap your MAC for a LSC. Hmm. I really don’t like snub cannons. I especially don’t like them when they are costed at +1TV over the MAC, which only has one less PEN and is much more accurate and rangey. Or when they cost the same as the LLC or HRF, both of which are simply better weapons against anything with less than AR:9. Or when they’re on the Jaguar, which really isn’t a gear that wants to get in close. While I think it is sometimes justifiable to take the Destroyer Jaguar to specifically seek out that precious AP:3 hit on a tank, I can’t really justify taking this variant. If you want an airdroppable tank hunter then take a Para Strike Hunter or a Destroyer Dingo or the Destroyer Jaguar.
Arrow Jaguar: For +2TV you swap your LRP for a LATM. This is quite interesting – unlike the Southerners the CNCS don’t seem to be very fond of limited ammo weapons, which results in your LATM being more of a primary weapon than the MAC. Much like the Flash and Sniper variants this works well with the desire of the Jaguar to maintain distance from its target, having an optimal range band that spans out to 36”. Beyond optimal you’ll need to have FO and really want it to involve TD – for The North that would usually mean a Ferret or Bobcat, but it’s definitely worth considering a Para Cheetah because you can take it in the same primary unit as your Jaguars and it can really help to attain a flank bonus. The Arrow Jaguar is a pretty serious threat to enemy armour because of the consistency with which it can land those LATM shots, but if you’re able to pull off FO reliably turn after turn you should almost certainly be using a fire support gear like the Crossbow Grizzly which is more efficient per action. I would instead regard the Arrow Jaguar as a direct fire gear which can occasionally make use of TD when it’s available. In a way it’s a shame that you’re swapping the LRP for the LATM rather than the MAC since this does remove your only AE weapon and you’ll probably find yourself missing it when your targets cluster or have ECM defence, but given the LRP isn’t an amazing weapon for the Jaguar and the MAC can still be a useful alternative to the LATM at close range or against hard to hit softer targets like recon gears, it’s not so bad. Overall it’s a decent variant, just don’t forget it’s still a strike gear, not an ATM platform.
Fire Jaguar: For +1TV you swap your LRP for a MRP (link). This is obviously very similar to the Longfang Black Mamba and has the same issues and benefits, though the Mamba is slightly more suited to firing rockets at clusters of enemies at relatively close range because of its better armour. That said, RPs combine relatively well with top speeding across the map because of their guaranteed 1d6 from being AE weapons, and the Jaguar is slightly more likely than the Mamba to want to go top speed to stay clear of threats (as many more things are threatening to a Jaguar than to a Mamba – that 1 AR difference is a big deal). As with the Longfang Mamba I don’t think this is a bad variant if you know you’ll be using your rocket pack, and I’d consider taking one in a Jaguar combat group just for the versatility. That said the Dingo is basically just better in the role of an airdrop unit which can blast groups of gears, provided you have that specific task in mind when you declare your drops.
Thunder Jaguar (Jaguar Upgrade): For +1TV you improve your EW by 1 (to 4+) and gain SatUp:6+ (Aux). The improved EW is rarely relevant but it makes a decent difference to any Comms action you might end up taking to Forward Observe or distribute a command point. More relevant is the SatUp, though it’s less useful for a Northern than a Southern gear because none of your models have the combination of TD and SatUp, let alone the TD:2 and SatUp of the Chatterbox Iguana. Because the only Jaguar weapon you’d really want to forward observe is the LATM on the Arrow, this is a bit of a downer. One potential use is to simply use the Thunder Jaguar to forward observe for some unguided artillery having gotten the target in the open – but the North’s better fire support is pretty much all guided. All things considered I’m not terribly keen on this upgrade.