MECH DESTROYERS - "MDs"
Allied Army term for specialized mechs designed specifically to eliminate enemy mechs and armor. MDs sacrifice the versatility and adaptability of Anthro mechs for the sake of maximizing their offensive potential. Accordingly, the humanoid aspect of Anthro mechs has been lost in the layout of MDs. The nearest natural equivalent would be something like a T-Rex with massive guns strapped to its sides.
Similar to their tank destroyer cousins, Mech Destroyers are built to mount the largest guns possible on any given frame, often sacrificing armor and agility to do so. For tank destroyers, the consideration of maximum firepower usually meant eliminating a turret, which restricts the size of a gun's breech, and instead mounting the main weapon directly inside the hull with limited traversal movement. MDs have said goodbye to their humanoid arms (along with all the dexterity they provide) and say hello to massive weapons mounted directly to the hull's arm socket. As these weapons are fit snugly against the hull, traversal -the ability to sweep a weapon from side to side- is again limited. Furthermore, as is custom with German and Russian designs, waist ring rotation has also been eliminated for the sake of saving weight, production cost, and excess body size.
With exceptional ranged attacks, but limited close combat ability, and a miserly armor rating, MDsare natural snipers, best used with hit-and-run tactics. Ambush, however, doesn't come naturally to a walking monster, so conventional mech doctrine decreed that MDs be equipped with reverse-jointed legs, in the manner of birds or theropods, allowing them to lower their vertical stature as much as possible in a crouched position.
MDs retain the basic interchangeable components of Anthro mechs (head, chest, arms, and leg section) but the unique situation of combined weapon-arms and reversed legs renders them easily distinct from the other mech class.
All mechs in Operation: DRAGON SLAYER are inspired by actual authentic World War II tanks and vehicles. For every mech, there is a corresponding AFV (armored fighting vehicles) with which it shares an origin story, as well as mechanical parts. So each mech, though a figment of dieselpunk fantasy, is also rooted in real history.
Granting each mech a 'cousin' AFV has its advantages. If you know the basic characteristics of a particular tank, you've got a head start towards getting a feel for its taller walking cousin. This hold true when considering your armored forces as well as those of the enemy.
There are strategic advantages for mechs traveling with their smaller cousins too; a mechanic who can get a damaged Sherman tank running again is more likely to have luck fixing a "Big Joe" since they've got the same engine, among other parts. In the field, commanders will experience such advantages as they manifest in the form of greater mobility and more efficient repair actions.
Dwarf Pzfs, like the Panzer I tank, were only ever intended as stopgaps before German war industry could build the momentum to produce superior vehicles. Most Pzfs in the light to heavy range are undeniable examples of German quality in engineering and innovation. Though as Germany's opponents proved, complexity of design is not always a war-winning trait, when measured against quantity and ease of operation. But until the Allies could rush out roughly equal counterparts to combat them, all German Pzfs enjoyed an interval of domination following their debut on the battlefield.
The Axis high command was renowned for its almost superstitious faith in the superiority of their technology. Such faith was only emboldened by the initial success of the Pzf program. As with most aspects of the 3rd Reich, however, the underlying delusion of grandeur would eventually crumble under its own weight. This apocalyptic hubris was perhaps most evident in the absurd revelation of the Super Heavy Pzf; a behemoth centuries ahead of its time, and ultimately as impractical as it was improbable.
Arriving too late in the war to make a significant impact, the most terrifying aspect of the Super Heavy Pzf was not its garngantuan size so much as its latent potential as a platform for more destructive X-weapons.
There are several different types of mechs featured in Operation: Dragon Slayer, each with its own special tactical role. Understanding the strengths and weaknesses of each type is crucial when organizing your combat group. Knowing the difference between an "Antrho mech" and a "Mech destroyer" destroyer, for example, is as useful as being able to identify a tank versus a tank destroyer, or a self-propelled gun (SPG), versus an Armored Personnel Carrier (APC).
Panzer Zu Fuss -"Pzf"
Meaning in German, "Armor on foot", or "Walking armor", the term Pzf actually predates the Western Allied AAFV designation, as Axis Germany was the original source of the technology.
While AAFVs adhere to the size designations of light, medium, and heavy mechs, German PZFs dramatically exceed that range on both ends of the scale by varying from Dwarf to Super-Heavy. A fact which reflects both the Axis power's ambition, and its habitual denial of logical limitations.
AAFVs - "Anthro Mechs"
-The official US ARMY acronym for Anthropomorphic Armored Fighting Vehicle. The term applies to any type of walking armor with articulated limbs resembling that of the human body. Their primary interchangeable parts are the head, chest (hull), arms, and legs -which are joined to a single unit from the waist ring down, including the 'crotch' section, housing main power and transmission.
Similar to their tracked cousins, AAFVs are often defined by the size/weight classification of small, medium and large. Unlike normal AFVs though, aside from walking upright on legs like iron giants, an AAFV's weapons are fully interchangeable. A soldier without a weapon can always improvise -scrounge from the battlefield. Blessed with humanoid arms and manipulators, an Anthro Mech has similar advantages.
Anthro mechs can hold weapons in their hands, and change them on the fly, but they also feature mounts for additional weapons elsewhere on the body, such as on their forearms, shoulders, or upper hull (back mount), depending on vehicle specs. Back mounts are also useful for a variety of equipment besides weapons, like infantrymen carrying specialized backpacks. Some backpack units are geared for general supplies and materiel, others can boost a particular combat specialty. For example; "power packs" -generators which provide additional strength to a mech's upper body, ideal for mechs that favor close combat melee weapons.
The fundamental advantages of Anthro Mechs, justifying their high production cost, are versatiliy and adaptability.
Coined by British Forces, the class designation of Jouster was granted to mechs that fell in-between Anthro Mechs and Mech Destroyers. Jousters lean towards the predominantly humanoid configuration of Anthros with the exception of one built-in weaponized arm, per the style of Destroyers.
Jousters attempt a compromise between the strengths and weaknesses of their component mech classes. The intention was to stably equip a high calibre weapon, while saving weight, and while retaining a degree of both versatility and close quarters fighting potential. The inclusion of only a single articulated arm significantly lowers production cost and maintenance demands as well.
Though capable of punching above their weight class in imitation of Destroyers, they lack the same advantage of having a lower profile when crouched or in "knee-down" position. Proponents of the Jouster would argue that their offense-to-weight efficiency promotes more aggressive mobile tactics. Though non-believers would say that there's less need to enact a cavalry charge when you can better strike from range, furthermore asking; why enter a boxing match with one arm tied behind your back?
Ultimately, the Jouster's potential is decided by the strength of its commander, the conditions in the field, and said commander's awareness of all variables.