It feels awfully arrogant that we call these variants “Clanbusters” when Clan Wolf still cut through us with ease despite being outnumbered two-to-one.

Demi-Precentor Layla Al-Amin, 166th Division

Since getting one of the Black Knight BL-9-KNT miniatures, I’ve been eager to play a game with it. Last week while I was on vacation, I decided to do a small battle with it pitted against the Clans during the battle of Tukayyid.

The Forces

Com Guards 166th Division

  • Demi-Precentor Layla Al-Amin (3/4), Black Knight BL-9-KNT
  • Adept Ayo Braxton (4/4), Rifleman RFL-5CS

Demi-Precentor Al-Amin is uses her Black Knight as a command ’Mech for the Level III under her command. It’s energy weapon payload means that she can stay in the battle without worrying about either running ammo bins empty or disastrous ammo explosions. She is accompanied by her aid who pilots an upgraded Rifleman that can provide direct fire support if enemy units manage to get close to the Demi-Precentor’s position.

Layla and Ayo have a battle value of 3,648.

Clan Wolf Beta Galaxy

  • Warrior Mikhail (3/4), Timber Wolf Prime

Mikhail is considered a competent, but not outstanding, MechWarrior. As the years pass, he has grown impatient and wants to find a way to earn honor rather than being merely considered competent. He has earned the right to pilot a Timber Wolf on Tukayyid and intends to impress his peers.

Warrior Mikhail has a battle value of 3,613.

The Battle

Demi-Precentor Layla Al-Amin was behind the main battle line focused on coordinating her Level III’s defense against Clan Wolf. Then Adept Ayo Braxton’s voice alerted her to an approaching enemy ’Mech. A Mad Cat had managed to break through the line and was headed their way.

Knowing that the Clan ’Mech would likely have a range advantage, Layla throttled her Black Knight to a run and tried to close the distance despite not having visual on her target yet. Ayo rushed her Rifleman up a hill to get into a good firing position and spotted the Mad Cat as it started to climb the next ridge line over. The Clan MechWarrior started to broadcast a challenge at Layla on an open frequency, but she quickly muted his voice. With his challenge issued, the Mad Cat opened fire. One of its large lasers and a flight of missiles slammed into Layla’s Black Knight stripping away armor from its torso, leg, and arm. The Com Guards fired back, but their weapons were still in their longest range bracket and unable to score any hits.

Layla pushed forward towards the Mad Cat while Ayo held her position on top of the hill, but the Clan MechWarrior backtracked to give his machine partial cover and stay out of the medium range bracket of Ayo’s lasers. While the Mad Cat backed up, a burst of autocannon fire chipped away armor on its center torso and Layla’s particle cannon vaporized armor on its right torso. The return fire at Layla was overwhelming. A laser beam melted armor across her Black Knight’s torso and more than a dozen missiles made contact including a cluster that hit her ’Mech right in the face. Shaken by the head hit and off-balance from the damage, the Demi-Precentor lost control and her ’Mech slammed into the ground.

Layla pushed her Black Knight back to its feet and towards the Mad Cat while it continued to walk backwards to keep the distance between them steady. This time, the Mad Cat hit her with a large laser and more than two dozen missiles. Another cluster of the missiles hit her head, blasting away all of its remaining armor. She managed to stay upright, but didn’t score a single hit back. Ayo managed to score a hit with a burst of autocannon fire, but the range from her firing position wasn’t helping.

With the Mad Cat managing to maintain range and her Black Knight damaged, Layla put a ridge line between herself and the Clan MechWarrior. Meanwhile Ayo rushed her Rifleman down the hill from her firing position in order to move closer to her target. While she ran, she fired at the Mad Cat with her autocannons, but the shots went wide. Seemingly annoyed at his target being out of sight, the Mad Cat twisted its torso and fired a pair of laser beams towards the Rifleman. Luckily for Ayo, both shots missed.

Ayo started to climb up another hill just as Layla’s Black Knight emerged over the ridge line she had been hiding behind. Both the Black Knight and Mad Cat opened up with their energy weapons. Layla scored hits with her particle cannon and pulse laser, but failed to breach the Clan ’Mech’s armor. The Mad Cat’s return fire melted away the last bits of armor on the right side of her torso and then savaged its internal structure. The damage was enough to take the Black Knight’s fusion reactor offline and cause it to fall to the ground.

Ayo reached her new firing position just after the Demi-Precentor’s ’Mech fell. The Clan MechWarrior turned to face her and they both unleashed their firepower. Ayo hit with one of her lasers and three bursts of autocannon fire, but took heavy damage from the Mad Cat’s lasers.

The Mad Cat threatened to push inside the minimum range of her Rifleman’s autocannons, so Ayo backed up into a small stand of trees on the hilltop. She scored a couple of hits on the Clan ’Mech, but suffered damage to her engine from its return fire.

The Mad Cat then started to circle Ayo’s position. Another fusillade from its lasers destroyed the Rifleman’s right arm and cut her firepower in half. She managed to hit its head with a burst of autocannon fire, but that just seemed to remind the Clan MechWarrior that he still needed to pay attention. His next fusillade punched through the Rifleman’s torso armor and ignited one of its ammunition bins. Ayo rocketed upwards in her ejection seat as her Rifleman’s torso was hollowed out by the resulting series of explosions.

The Outcome

With the Demi-Precentor taken out of the fight, her Level III was left in disarray and Clan Wolf was able to press on through the Golija Palisades towards Skupo. Warrior Mikhail’s bold strike earned him accolades from his commanders in Beta Galaxy.

Com Guards Damage Report

  • Demi-Precentor Al-Amin and Adept Braxton both suffered injuries.
  • The Black Knight was badly damaged and requires an expensive new XL Fusion Engine as well as extensive repairs to its internal structure and armor.
  • The Rifleman was completely destroyed when its ammunition bin exploded.

Clan Wolf Damage Report

  • Warrior Mikhail was injured from the hit to his Timber Wolf’s head.
  • The Timber Wolf requires repairs to its internal structure and armor, but is still in relatively good condition.

Thoughts on the Battle

I’m sad that the Black Knight didn’t manage to get close enough to use its sword. Overall, the battle really highlighted just how much of an advantage Clan ’Mechs have over their Inner Sphere counterparts. The Timber Wolf out-ranged its opponents, could deal far more damage than them, and was faster than the Black Knight.

’Mech Reviews

Black Knight BL-9-KNT: This variant of the Black Knight takes advantage of using an XL engine to have a lot of firepower. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have the cooling capacity to be able to use it all at the same time. Since it is a design that wants to get in fairly close, I felt like its 4/6 movement profile was a challenge when Clan heavies are generally moving 5/8. In the end, it also suffered from the fragility of the XL engine’s 3 critical slots in the side torso.

Rifleman RFL-5CS: I’ve never really been a fan of the Rifleman. Its classic Succession Wars version has pretty severe heat problems and thin armor. This Com Guards variant is a pretty drastic improvement that is faster, runs cooler, and has more firepower. I initially tried to use the Rifleman by getting it to a position with good line of sight, but that plan suffered from its large lasers not being able to match the range of the Timber Wolf. The improved movement profile did mean that I could reposition faster than normal once I decided that I would need to get closer to improve the chances of hitting.

Timber Wolf Prime: The Timber Wolf Prime is a fantastic ’Mech. The one complaint I can see is that it doesn’t carry enough ammo for its LRMs, but in play that felt okay because it doesn’t have the cooling capacity to keep firing the missiles once it is in effective range to start firing its medium lasers anyways.

By Scott Boehmer

A game enthusiast and software engineer.

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