Code Name: BF2-21
Manufacturer: Colonial Expeditionary Force
Height: 4.6 meters
Weight: 5,950 kg
Baconradar’s Summary: Highly mobile sniper with great variants and a cheaper little brother
Blisteringly fast hover SMS speed of 9”
Superb advanced primary weapon options
Advanced weapons and ANN allow for a GU:2+ rating relatively often
Airdrop and jetpack upgrade allow it to get flank or elevated and really benefit from GU skill
Variants are well costed and open up nice array of options while remaining specialised
Costs as much as most strike gears, but with the survivability of a Hunter
Lacks an AE weapon to handle ECM defence or clustered targets
A very poor choice against heavy armour, lacking even an AP melee weapon
Arguably over-specialised, particularly for a gear
Often the F6-16 can do the same job but for fewer TV points
- Sniper: The basic idea here is to stay at long range, avoid return fire, get visual lock (line of sight) to some suitable targets and simply optimise your damage output while staying away from harm. The crucial point here is that the BF2-21, like many CEF units, is quite mobile and is armed with a LLC. The LLC is pretty much the gold standard of affordable long range weapons; it’s advanced which means it isn’t handicapped by a need to stay in optimal range, it can reach targets up to 72″ away which on a typical 6’x4′ gaming table might as well read ‘unlimited’, it’s precise which counters agile, and it has a genuinely scary PEN of 8. It really is an excellent weapon, made all the better by the ANN on the BF2-21; while I generally suggest to readers that they shouldn’t get over-excited about skill ratings, getting 2+ against a target in optimal range with 3d6 (from braced, elevated, or flank) genuinely is a nice jump in accuracy over 3+. Against a typical Strike Trooper in light cover it takes you from a 60% chance to hit to 69%. Manoeuvring to get elevated or flank is made more feasible by the Mobility Pack upgrade, but even without that it’s something you simply want to be doing with a sniper unit in order to get visual lock. Remember that unlike units which work in closer ranges you aren’t going to be able to rely on getting sensor lock. The BF2-21 belongs at the edges of the battlefield where it is best able to out-range the opponent and more likely to be able to make the most of its lightning fast hover SMS by moving in straight lines. While the LLC is by no means bad at close range the simple fact is the BF2-21 isn’t really designed for this type of engagement – it sucks in melee, it doesn’t need to be close to use secondary weapon systems, and for the cost it’s pretty fragile. In this role you don’t really need to airdrop, unless there’s a nice piece of tall terrain you can sit on top of to snipe and you can’t or don’t want to jetpack up there.
- Strike Trooper: Right off the bat I want to say I consider this an inferior choice to the Sniper role, but the BF2-21 does tick quite a few of the Strike Gear boxes. It has great mobility, it can airdrop, the LLC can devour other gears and lighter targets, and the BF2-21 isn’t that fragile, though it’s definitely not as tough as a Black Mamba or even a Jaguar (though you can use your ANN to improve your piloting to 3+ in your activation to give yourself a better chance against snap-fire, I don’t generally recommend it). What the BF2-21 lacks is a good walker speed, a decent melee weapon, and, most crucially, an AE weapon to take out ECM protected or clustered targets. In this role you’ll want to airdrop the frames at the back corner of the opponent’s deployment, preferably some way away from anything that can counter you, and spend the battle hitting vulnerable targets in the flank. You’ll have to operate a bit closer than in the Sniper role which should give you more available targets and grant you the optimal range bonus more often, but greatly increases the risk. Be prepared to constantly shift your position to avoid getting blasted and still inevitably take some nasty hits. One minor advantage you do have over most strike gears is that the LLC, being PEN:8, allows you to better threaten and potentially cripple/destroy Fire Support gears like the Spitting Cobra or Grizzly. In an optimal range flank shot against one of these, out of cover, you do an average 2.16 damage, compared with the 1.77 from a MAC, and your optimal range is twice that of the autocannon.
Anti-Tank Pack: For +2TV you swap your LLC for a LPA and get a LATM (LA:2). Let’s talk about the LPA first – in general I regard the LLC as the better weapon because it has better range, is much more likely to be in optimal and get you that GU:2+ rating, has an extra point of PEN, and is precise. What the LPA gives you is the haywire effect, which can be extremely strong on expensive/powerful models as well as shutting down a lot of aux or sensor dependent units like forward observers. It’s a bit of a shame that the CEF lack powerful melee units to take advantage of haywiring a tank/strider then hitting it in melee (where it automatically gets a 1 on defence), but it’s still a pretty strong effect when combined with their excellent advanced weapons. I’d be happy with the option of swapping the LLC for the LPA at +0 TV, but that’s not on the cards, so let’s talk about the LATM. The benefits of the LATM are twofold – firstly you now have a way to hurt heavy armour. This is important because the BF2-21 otherwise offers virtually no threat to anything with AR:10+. The CEF in general struggles a bit to counter heavy armour cost effectively, and by that standard this variant is fine. The second benefit is a way of taking advantage of a TD enabled forward observation, something the CEF is OK at via recon packs (which I’ll discuss shortly) and the superb HC-3A Hovercar, which is an absolutely core model for the faction. This isn’t what I would call a good strategy overall, since this is only a LATM, it has limited ammo, and using fairly expensive units to pull off the combo isn’t great, but it is nice to have the option if your observer can get flank on a juicy target. Annoyingly though ANN doesn’t combo at all with chaining fire to a FO because it ends with the model’s activation. Generally I think the CEF is best off countering heavy armour with heavy armour of its own (the MHT range) and if you want a cheaper option the F6-16 Anti-Tank variant is more cost efficient than this one. Conclusion: An overpriced tank hunter with pretty clearly superior competitor.
Assault Pack: For +1 TV you swap your LLC for a MRL and gain Shield:1. The Rotary Laser has much, much shorter range than the LLC (although it still extends to 24”) and this very much changes the role of the frame. This is especially true because MRL gives you 3d6 on your attack and really incentivises getting in optimal range for that GU:2+ rating. Against a Hunter within 12” with light cover you do 2.86 average damage, compared with the 1.57 of the LLC and even against a much better target for the LLC, a Black Mamba at 20”, you’re doing 1.28 damage compared with the LLC’s 0.97. Bottom line is as long as you can get the MRL in range it’s almost always going to perform better than the LLC, even against agile targets. Then there’s the benefit of having split:1 which allows you to shore up the weakness of the frame against multiple targets, routinely rolling two sets of 2d6 on a PEN:8 weapon at skill 3+. Finally there’s the shield; in general I think shields in HGB tend to be under-costed and very powerful, with the extra d6 on defence really transformative in terms of survivability, especially for a relatively fragile model like this one. Obviously the shield also synergises well with the closer range role of this variant and will allow you to sometimes take the risk of ending your activation out of cover having moved to secure a good shot with the MRL. This is not to say that this variant can perform in an assault role – it simply lacks too many required features for that, but it does make it a better strike gear and works better in combination with airdrop than any other variant. It’s interesting to compare this with the F6-16: Assault Pack which only gets a LRL, making this frame a pretty clear better choice. Conclusion: An excellent if limited Strike Trooper/Gear Destroyer.
Recon Pack: For +2 TV you gain Comms:1 (Aux), ECM:1, Sensor Boom (Aux), and TD:1 (Aux). That’s a lot for 2 TV and obviously makes a big difference to what you’ll be doing with your activation. Rather than simply finding the right spot to fire your powerful primary weapon you now have additional options to forward observe, throw up defensive ECM, save your action to prevent enemy Comms, or sensor jam a difficult target. With this variant you essentially have a hybrid sniper/recon/ewar frame, with the only real compromise to the two latter roles being a somewhat low EW:5+ on reactions (remember ANN only works during your activation) and poor sensor range. One thing which is really disappointing about this pack is that everything you add other than the ECM is auxiliary and the BF2-21, as previously mentioned, isn’t a particularly difficult frame to cripple. I think this is a legitimate variant, but since the ANN isn’t so important you might want to take the 2TV cheaper F6-16 recon pack instead. In terms of ECM defence I would highly, highly recommend taking the borderline ridiculous HC3-A as a support unit instead, but either this or the F6-16 competitor is fairly good for the TD:1 or sensor jamming, provided your forces are in position to take advantage. Conclusion: An acceptable option as a recon and sensor jamming unit, but you should probably use the F6-16 version.
Support Pack: For +1TV you gain a LGM. Because the stock frame has such a limited arsenal, simply getting a new weapon is a big deal, and this one adds a lot: blast, indirect, guided, and AE. Unlike a true Fire Support unit this variant isn’t best served chaining to a FO every turn, because one LGM shot from a GU:4+ 11 TV unit isn’t terribly exciting for a side with no access to cheap TD units. Rather I would treat the LGM sort of like a grenade launcher to add a little extra oomph to frames used in the Strike role, and only make use of the guided trait if a particularly nice opportunity arises. Remember though, the LGM is indirect only which means if you don’t have a Forward Observation then you need sensor lock – you can’t fire just because you have line of sight. So much less useful in the Sniper role. Conclusion: Not a fire support option, rather a way to take an AE blast weapon as a Strike Trooper.
Mobility Pack (Upgrade): For +1TV you can upgrade any BF2-21 with the airdrop trait and a 6″ jetpack. If you going the Strike Trooper role, then this is compulsory. I would also consider it a must have for basically every variant other than the stock model. For the stock model you can forgo it and just hover around the edges of the map sniping, but to be honest if having the jetpack means you get the +1d6 from being elevated, or even gives you line of sight to more targets, then it’s worth 1TV for sure. As such I’d pretty much always take this, especially since if I really needed to scrimp on the TV cost I’d be using F6-16s to snipe instead. It’s strictly better to have this as an option rather than just be built into the unit though. Conclusion: A superb, near compulsory upgrade which effectively improves your offence, defence, and mobility.