Code Name: Diamondback
Manufacturer: Mandeers Heavy Industry / Dynamic Systems
Height: 4.6 meters
Weight: 6,575 kg
Baconradar’s Summary: An affordable and versatile airdrop strike gear
- At W:5 G:7 with airdrop it has decent mobility
- At 9TV it’s an inexpensive strike gear
- Airdrop trait combos well with brawler and weapon options
- Versatile weapons loadout including anti-infantry
- Fairly priced and specialised variants
- Lacks an anti-gear AE weapon without an upgrade
- LVB rather than LSG or MVB limits the usefulness of brawler:1 against tanks
- Restrictive UA code
- Gunnery 4+ limits the effectiveness of getting elevated compared to Mambas
- Suffers from comparison with the excellent Black Mamba generally
- Strike Gear: The Diamondback has a lot of what you want in a strike gear. It’s airdroppable, it has a relatively varied arsenal including a solid anti-infantry weapon, and it’s pretty great against trooper gears and even other strike gears due to its MAC and ability to mix it up in melee. It also has a fairly speedy ground move of 7, though it’s a bit behind the curve when it comes to walker movement. Most importantly it’s cheaper than the Black Mamba by a full 2 TV, which is actually quite a major difference, though it’s important to understand that the Diamondback is a less capable all-around strike gear in several ways. Firstly it’s defensively quite a bit less sound – AR:6, field armour, and an extra point of structure is about as good as AR:7, but the Mamba also has better piloting and agile, which makes a really big difference when you’re behind cover. The Mamba is also offensively more potent due to its better gunnery which becomes more than a marginal advantage when you’re able to stack burst, elevated, and flank in the way airdroppable strike gears tend to. So why take the Diamondback over the Mamba? Well I think it’s best to consider this gear a mid-point between a Paratrooper gear like the Para Jager and a full fledged strike gear like the Black Mamba. It’s tougher than the former with a better weapon load out, a small speed boost, and much better melee capability, while being cheaper than the latter and still happily performing many of the duties required of a strike gear. I personally like the idea of mixing in a couple of Diamondbacks with an airdrop squad of Black Mambas to add a bit of close in ability, some more firepower at a lower price, and the benefit of anti-infantry rockets at range.
- Gear Destroyer: This role is largely about that sweet, sweet Brawler:1 trait. At first glance the lack of a better melee weapon than the humble LVB suggests the Diamondback may not be able to make best use of this, but in actuality the LVB has enough penetration to badly savage the likes of Hunters, Jaguars, CEF Frames, and especially recon gears. Consider this: If you combat move into melee with a Jaguar you will deal crippling damage over one third of the time (35%). Against a Hunter, you’re talking a solid average damage of 2.1, and against the usually hard to hit Cheetah you’re crippling them two thirds of the time (66%). In addition to this the Diamondback’s MAC is a fine weapon for blasting other gears in the 5-7 armour range and is accurate enough that agile gears aren’t off the table at all. Because you can airdrop your Diamondbacks you can use them in response to an annoying gear based combat group, often itself an airdrop unit – simply drop close and either rush in to melee or hang back and put them under MAC fire. Remember that you’re best either all the way in or all the way out because in the mid range a gear like the Jaguar will generally beat the Diamondback with better mobility and all around offensive and defensive abilities. I think there are better choices in the ‘these gears must die!’ role, partly because the Diamondback isn’t the toughest, partly because it doesn’t have one defining offensive weapon which eats gears up, but it’s relatively likely you’ll be able to come out ahead in a TV exchange with strike, trooper, or recon gears, particularly if you airdrop onto elevated terrain or manage to box them in for melee.
Strike Diamondback: For +1TV you swap your MAC for a MBZ. As usual, I must admit I am not a big fan of bazooka variants, particularly when the model is fairly reliant on its primary weapon to give it a bit of range, or isn’t that suited to being a tank hunter. However in this instance the upgrade has some stuff going for it. Firstly it gives you access to the MBZ, which is rare in the South, and while the chances of actually making use of the extra point of AP over the LBZ are fairly slim, it’s still a high PEN weapon. Secondly, as with the Strike Black Mamba, bazookas are simply better on mobile, Airdrop capable gears where getting close to a juicy target, flanking a vehicles or benefiting from elevated is pretty common. Thirdly, the Diamondback is already kinda interested in getting close to enemy vehicles because of its brawler:1 trait. As discussed this should primarily be seen as a way of killing other gears and doesn’t make the Diamondback a tank hunter, but it does make it slightly more suited to becoming a tank hunter with this variant. I certainly prefer the Strike Diamondback over the Strike Black Mamba and I think it’s a strong alternative to the Para Striking Jager. Overall a pretty decent airdroppable Tank Hunter.
Gunner Diamondback: For +1TV you swap your MAC for a HAC. This is, on paper, pretty damn attractive. Going from PEN:7 to 8 on an accurate weapon which gives you good range is extremely useful – it’s important to remember that going from PEN:7 to 8 isn’t increasing your damage output by 14%, it’s actually closer to increasing it by 33%. How do I figure that? Well let’s consider the typical scenario of shooting at an enemy Hunter in light cover. With a MAC, your average damage is 1.47, with a HAC it’s 2.03. Against a Cuirassier you go from 1.02 to 1.35. Technically having a HAC also puts a few more things on the menu, giving you the chance to hurt AR:8 targets, but you should really concentrate on the same medium armour gears as before for your ranged attacks. Personally I like the extra bit of oomph this can give to an airdropped strike group – with the Gunner Diamondback sat up on some terrain garnering the elevated bonus it’s plenty effective even in suboptimal range and can sort of ‘cover’ the movements of your other airdropped gears, striking out at any tasty targets. That said in this role you do kinda feel the pain from not having the juicy GU:3+ available on some other gears, which genuinely makes a difference when you’re able to roll 3 or 4d6 regularly, and you’re investing points into something which will lead to you ignoring your brawler trait. I like the variant a lot all the same, and provided you can get a good HAC shot off every turn it’s well worth the 1 TV.
Support Upgrade: For +1TV you can take this upgrade to swap the MAPR for a MAR. The benefit here is pretty clear; while the MAPR is a good infantry killer the MAR is a much more attractive anti-gear weapon, generally superior to the MRP by virtue of its improved AE. Remember that while it can’t fire direct that usually doesn’t matter because you’ll almost always only be rolling 1d6 anyway, especially in cases where you’d fire this rather than your primary weapon. Gaining a good AE anti-gear weapon and the cost of losing the MAPR isn’t actually too bad because you still have an APGL and the Diamondback isn’t a stellar anti-infantry unit to begin with. Of course this upgrade is less attractive on the Gunner because you want to make best use of your HAC, but I think it’s actually not unreasonable to take it on the Strike variant because it gives you back a weapon with effective range beyond 12″ (you’ll rarely fire a bazooka outside of optimal). I’d certainly consider taking a Support Diamondback over a Longfang Black Mamba in an airdrop unit. In conclusion it’s a decent option, but you need to consider the role you want your Diamondback to play before spending that extra 1 TV.