Code Name: Spartan
Faction: Peace River
Height: 4.7 meters
Weight: 7,330 kg
Baconradar’s Summary: A reliable heavy paratrooper offering strong weapons to airdrop groups
AR:7, 4/2, and Piloting 4+ is solid survivability for the cost
Excellent primary weapons against both infantry and gears
Surprisingly good sensors and an ECM package
Grants affordable access to heavy weapons in airdrop groups
Bad melee weapon, especially considering it’s a Paxton gear
No AE weapon to take advantage of clustering or counter ECM defence
2” silhouette without the usual AR of 8+
Outclassed in both Heavy Trooper and Assault roles by the Mustang
- Paratrooper: Bit of déjà vu here from the Jackal spotlight I did a little while back. The Spartan can’t really compete with the Mustang in a heavy trooper or assault role because the Mustang has a much better melee weapon, is tougher, and has roughly equivalent weapon systems for about the same price. If you weren’t worried about taking much fire the Spartan could at least compete with the Mustang as a heavy trooper and has the added bonus of ECM, but using it in this role would be neglecting its main draw – the fact that it has airdrop. Unlike the Warrior IV I can’t consider the Spartan a strike gear because it lacks the mobility, is less flexible, and just a little too crude. But what it does do is allow you a very affordable and reliable way of bringing the HAC and MFC along in your airdrop unit. Against typical gears and infantry these are both pretty brutal weapons and the HAC in particular will benefit a lot from the elevation bonus typically available to airdrop units (just drop them on something solid and taller than 1.5”). While your Warrior IVs, Jackals, Skirmishers and the like move around and do their thing the Spartan can pick out juicy targets and not worry overly about return fire due to its relative toughness and low cost. It’s best to think of the Spartan as a sort of durable support gunner that can reliably blast medium gears, hurt fire support units, and splatter annoying infantry from range. It is also actually very nice that it packs ECM:1, because while you get much better comms suppression and defensive ECM from Greyhounds and Skirmishers and the Warrior IV has ECM itself, the Spartan is in that sweet spot of being cheap enough that using ECM for a sensor jamming attack on a target before the rest of the group blasts it is reasonable (it’s less justifiable for a 13 TV Warrior IV), but the ECM just being an option, not the main reason to take the gear. Overall the Spartan is a reasonable and reliable choice in an airdrop combat group, giving you quite a few extra options. I wouldn’t recommend taking entire groups of them though – I’d mix them in with Warrior IVs or have them in the support unit for Skirmishers, Jackals etc. Peace River actually has a bit of a problem here in the sense that their airdrop capable units have very poor UA overlap.
Incendiary Spartan: For +0TV you swap your HAC for a MFL, lose your MFC, and gain a LGM and LHG. This is pretty radical set of changes and I have a lot to say about it, so get comfortable.
The first thing of note is that this is the only way for Peace River to get their hands on a guided mortar – as a faction they much prefer unguided weapons, taking field mortars and rockets over guided mortars or ATMs (unlike other sides and the South especially). Perhaps because of this they also have rather unusual access to target designators – only the Dragonfly VTOL , a command variant of the Skirmisher, and the superb 3 TV Observer Infantry have TD at all. Of these the Observer Infantry, which can be airdropped in with an upgrade, is by far the most likely to FO for this unit. This is not to suggest that you should take this variant in the fire support role – I don’t think 10TV for a single LGM is a particularly great deal – but it is certainly a nice addition to the Peace River arsenal. Even without FO the LGM works well as an AE blast weapon for a gear with better than usual sensors whose stock model entirely lacks AE. Actually all of your weapons are both AE and capable of ignoring cover with this variant. The LHG is basically just a LGM with +1 PEN when it’s in range, and with this model you may be tempted to get close in order to use the MFL. But is the MFL good enough to justify this? Well, yes and no. I have observed that a lot of people overrate flamers, possibly because in previous versions of the LRB they were hands down the best anti-armour weapons in the game. Now don’t get me wrong, they’re definitely still very good anti-armour weapons when you get in range to use them: A MFL against an Aller in the open does an average 0.98 damage, while a MBZ or MPZ does 0.95, and the classic Peace River MVB does 1.39. They also have the very nice traits of ignoring cover and AE:3”. But their benefits are counterbalanced by extremely short range and poorer performance against things in the AR:5-7 range. As an anti-infantry weapon flamers are also quite good – more damaging than the equivalent *APR but without the range and with smaller AE, but clearly inferior to airburst missiles and frag cannons.
Losing the MFC means you’re a lot less effective against any single infantry target, though you’re better against massed infantry. Losing the HAC is a far more serious blow and there’s no real replacement for it in the Incendiary Spartan’s arsenal – you lack an accurate weapon entirely and need help to fire at anything beyond 30”. You are also much, much less likely to be able to benefit from the elevation bonus. Rather than acting as a supporting paratrooper with a combo of a lethal anti-infantry weapon and a very good anti-gear weapon, the unit is now more of an odd hybrid tank hunter/assault/fire support gear. Of these roles the tank hunter one is probably the most justifiable because you can airdrop in nice and close to the armour you want to melt and provided you hit a couple of times with the MFL the gear will have been quite cost effective. I think the Incendiary Spartan might be the best airdroppable tank hunter Peace River has and it’s certainly an interesting gear, but if you want a really good tank hunter I think you’d be better off using a Shamshir Mustang, Scourge Melee Gladiator or similar, and making the most of the recon Pathfinder move or Flank deployment. All that said, a very interesting unit.
Assassin Spartan: For +0TV you swap your HAC for a HRF. After writing so much about the Incendiary Spartan, it’s nice to have a relatively simple-to-evaluate variant like this. In general I prefer autocannons over rifles – the extra d6 from burst and ability to split fire is usually superior to the +1 PEN, precise trait, and longer range of the rifle. The HRF is only as accurate as the HAC in the 19-24” range and outranges it only from 37-48” which really isn’t a very common range bracket, especially for a relatively tough airdrop gear. It is true that if you’re elevated that extra d6 from burst is less of a big deal, but then you can trade it in to shoot two targets with the HAC. Let’s take an example of something the Spartan might do – shoot in optimal range at a Jager in light cover with a +1d6 bonus from either flanking, braced, or elevation. In this situation the average damage from the HAC is 2.7, while the HRF manages 2.6. But what if it’s the Jaguar, whose agile trait is neutralised by the rifle’s precision? HAC: 1.95 vs HRF: 2.23. Basically if you’re shooting something agile then this variant tends to perform better, if you know you need the extra range then,… well you’re doing something weird, and if you know you’ll be in a bit closer or you won’t always be in optimal, I’d stick with the HAC. Because the Spartan feels like it’s better suited to sitting back a bit, maybe even going braced, I’d personally take the HRF about half the time, depending on the composition of the airdrop combat group.
Kestros Spartan: For +0TV you swap your HAC for a MGL. Right off the bat I’m always interested to see a unit with a grenade launcher because I rate them very highly, particularly on a unit that otherwise doesn’t have an AE weapon, like the Spartan. By losing the HAC you are entirely sacrificing the 25-36” range bracket, although it’s worth noting that if you use active sensors you can still make a sensor jamming attack on a target up to 30” away. You are also losing a fair bit of accuracy against other gears – a lot of the time with the MGL you’ll only be rolling 1d6 either because the target is a secondary within AE, or because they’re outside of your narrow 6-12” optimal range band. That said if your target is in cover, under ECM, or agile (or all three!) the blast on the MGL can negate it entirely which can result in a much more accurate attack. Let’s consider a HAC in optimal with 3d6 against a Jaguar in heavy cover – a pretty tricky target. The chance of hitting is 19.21% and if you do hit you’ll cripple them with a 10% chance of straight up overkilling them. With the MGL, even rolling 1d6 for suboptimal range, you’ll hit 34.72% of the time and if you do hit cripple or overkill in about 60% of cases. I do like the extra range the HAC affords and against targets out in the open with no ECM or agile trait it’s the nastier choice, but I think the Kestros is pretty great. It pushes the Spartan into a bit more of a forward role, but you can still get value out of going braced and elevated and dropping bombs on a target up to 24” away. Personally I’d take this about as often as the stock model, if not slightly more often.