Heavy Gear Spotlight – King Cobra

About Heavy Gear Spotlight

HGB-spotlight-KingCobra

Code Name: King Cobra

Faction: South

Manufacturer: Territorial Arms Skunk Works

Height: 5.2 meters

Weight: 10,120 kg


Baconradar’s Summary: An elite and versatile anti-gear weapons platform which excels in two roles

Strengths

  • 2 actions leads to good TV cost per offensive action ratio, especially with that GU:3+ rating

  • The Veteran trait is particularly nice on an expensive multi-action unit

  • AR 9 at 4/2 makes the King Cobra hard to take down without heavy weapons or AP

  • Very strong melee which grants good anti-armour capability

  • Extremely well rounded weapons loadout with multiple AE systems

Weaknesses

  • Lacks specialisation – you’re paying for weapons and features that you can’t use every turn

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

  • At 4/5 W/G it’s one of the slowest units in the game, which matters more than usual when melee is a strength

  • At TV 18 it is competing with much heavier multi action models like Striders and Tanks

  • Poor performance against heavy armour outside of melee

Best Uses

  1. Assault: This is the role that comes immediately to mind when you first see the King Cobra’s statline. Heavy armour? Check. Powerful short/mid-range primary weapon? Check. AE and blast weapon options? Check, check, and check. Melee ability? You bet. Varied arsenal? Absolutely – the King can take out infantry, gears, and even heavy armour. The mission here is to close on the enemy position as quickly as is practical, remembering that your AE weapons work well enough when moving at top speed because of their minimum 1d6 attack. Between the LGM (blast, smaller template), MRP (higher pen, medium template), and LAR (biggest template) you should be able to pick the right weapon for the job each turn and maximise your chances to do some damage. Actually picking which weapons to use and what order to use them in is very important when using a King Cobra because if you aren’t at least actively considering the sheer variety of weapons at your disposal you are missing a major strength of the gear. As you close you will identify a priority target, perhaps opportunistically, and this is when the LPA comes into play. Being advanced it’s plenty accurate at combat speed up to 36”, but its purpose is primarily to haywire rather than damage, crippling the target for a follow up attack – if you don’t have a friendly unit to launch that follow up then your best bet is to be in MRP optimal range (18”) and pick them as your primary target. Remember that the MPA only has to hit to haywire, it doesn’t have to actually do damage, and your chances of hitting in suboptimal will be a little less than 50% most of the time, with only a few percentage points extra for being in optimal. The crucial thing is to try and catch a target out of cover and maximise your chance of that MPA hit, because as soon as you get it your follow up attack is much more likely to land. Now within 18” of your targets you have a choice – either keep looking for MPA combo attacks and pounding away with the MRP, or try to get to melee. Personally while the King Cobra is very strong in melee I think it’s probably better to sit at close range and look for MPA attacks, going braced if necessary. In this role the King Cobra is quite clearly a better choice than the Spitting Cobra or its variants, adding much more value than the cost increase would suggest, but I’m not sure that it’s better than e.g. a pair of Desert Vipers, or going the whole hog and investing in a Strider or Tank.
  2. Central Anchor: This is actually my preferred role for the King Cobra, one which makes good use of its sheer weapon variety. The idea is to keep your King right in the middle of your battle line and hold a good firing position, reacting to your opponent’s gears and putting fire exactly where it’s needed each activation. You’ll want to consider putting one or both actions on standby at times and chaining to FO – ideally with the LGM which can make use of that vaunted TD:2 available to the South. Now it’s important that isn’t all you do, or you’ll essentially be an overpriced, if less vulnerable Spitting Cobra (with a worse *AR to boot!), but your toughness means you can keep yourself close to the action and switch to offence whenever you feel the opportunity is there, using that nasty MPA and MRP combo. As with the Drake gearstrider, being in the centre not only puts more enemy models in range of your weapons and allows you to react to multiple threats, it means you can provide your expensive 2 action model with plenty of support in the form of ECM defence, sensor boosting, and units with AP weapons ready to strike at Heavy Armour. The main advantage that the King has over the Drake in this role is that it combos better with forward observation and if you can’t use those weapons to their greatest effect you haven’t emptied the bank to get it.

Variants

King Cobra Gunner: For 0TV you swap your MPA for a HRC. Regular readers will know how fond I am of the HRC as an accurate mid-range weapon capable of seriously harming most gears. For the King Cobra, already bristling with varied anti-gear weapon systems, it may seem like overkill to add another versatile tool in that category, but let’s consider just how strong the HRC is on this model. Unlike the Command Drake or Junglemower Cobra, the King Cobra Gunner boasts the rare GU:3+ rating, and because the HRC will allow you to routinely roll 4d6 with the occasional 3d6, that actually matters. At 4d6 it takes your average roll to 6.92 rather than 6.3 and at 3d6 it’s a 6.0 rather than 5.58. That’s a bit abstract though, so let’s consider average damage when rolling a 4d6 HRC attack on a Jaguar in light cover – having one extra GU puts you at 2.56 rather than 1.95. That’s a significant difference. But how does the HRC stack up against the MPA? Well it’s shorter ranged, a lot more accurate, better against multiple targets (but you already have 3 AE weapons, so that’s not so important), and worse against hittable single targets. Because the MPA haywires it’s always going to carry the potential to be more devastating, but overall I prefer the HRC in the assault role because accuracy is so important and the massed AE weapons on the King work just fine to lay down fire until you can get within 24” and start using the HRC. It’s close though, the variants are pretty balanced.

King Cobra Hooded: For 0TV you swap your MPA for MLC. Unlike with the Gunner, this weapon swap actually changes the role of the King Cobra significantly. While you could use the MLC as an assault weapon it’s clearly better at longer ranges, picking off agile strike gears or damaging hovertanks thanks to its incredible 12-36/72” range, PEN:9, and precise trait. Thus the Hooded Cobra is much better suited to the Central Anchor role than Assault – the MLC gives it a frightening ability to project force across the battlefield provided it can get lock and it’s hard to imagine a situation where it wouldn’t usefully be able to hurt the enemy somewhere basically every turn. Comparing the MLC with the MPA you have better range (and thus accuracy), better PEN (and the jump from 8 to 9 is a big one, believe me), and precise to counter agile. You do lose the ability to inflict haywire and that can be a big deal when you have a single expensive target you really need to beat up, but not having to worry about haywire followed up by your second action does give you a little extra flexibility in the order you choose to do things, which suits the Central Anchor role nicely. I’m a big fan of this variant and I prefer the MLC to the MPA, but it’s very much a matter of taste – you could consider the Hooded the more flexible and consistent performer, but the stock has potential for a more devastating activation.

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