Way back in the day, one of the first articles I wrote was an overview of stealth equipment in a post Wars of Reaving environment. To review, I concluded that the Homeworld Clans would not continue use, or even R&D into either the Null Signature System or Chameleon Light Polarization Shield that was used by the Society during their short-lived rebellion.
While I have not gotten any comments or attempts at sour eggs for that article yet, the appearance of the Wulfen OmniMech might call into question my premise. Allow me a moment to cut off those concerns at the head.
My original hypothesis, for lack of better evidence, still stands.
Allow me to explain, the entirety of the scope of my article focused on the Homeworld Clans of the Star Adders, Stone Lions, Coyotes and Cloud Cobras. Nowhere in that article to I mention, nor did I even bother to hypothesize about the impact of Stealth Tech on the Inner Sphere front. In fact the appearance of the Wulfen in TRO 3145: Clans in my mind only reinforces my hypothesis about how much Clan culture has shifted.
Clan Wolf has, paradoxically, always been one of the more liberal clans among Kerensky’s children. In the Wolf Clan Sourcebook we see that on the Galaxy-level they make regular use of the Naga Artillery ’Mech. They also have never had serious issues with Freeborn Warriors like Jaime and Joshua Wolf participating in front line combat (though it was rare for a Freeborn to rise above Star commander). Then the Wolves have also gone through their own freezing/unfreezing change I had mentioned in my previous thesis. The Refusal War and Vlad Ward’s rise to power, was what laid the foundation of Clan Wolf accepting stealth technology.
Clan Wolf from the Refusal War onward had two key elements tied to it. The first was that they were perpetually starved for military resources, and they were also driven by a cultural demand to re-exert their dominance over the rest of the Clans. The former was driven home by their harvest trials of other clans, and the way the Wars of Reaving cut off all of their production capabilities for the Inner Sphere. The latter can be seen in political moves such as allowing the Smoke Jaguars to die, establishing and affirming their right to continue the Operation REVIVAL to Victor Davion; and in Military actions such as the siege of the Kerensky Chapel, or Delta Galaxy’s exemplary performance in Operation SCOUR.
With these two drives the Wulfen is the perfect fit. While the XXL engine and Stealth Armor makes the ’Mech resource intensive to construct, the enhanced speed and low sensor profile makes the machine much more survivable for warrior. A damaged ’Mech is cheaper to rebuild then a destroyed ’Mech is to replace after all.
On the military dominance level, we have a ’Mech that appears to be (at least in the Primary and C Configurations) to be lightly armed. While the Light Autocannons and Missiles may not pack a lot of punch, the machine does possess an extraordinary range, even for Clan Technology. That was the point when Catalyst Art Director Brent Evans designed the ’Mechs stats. Speaking to him at GenCon 2013 I learned he designed the ’Mech himself. He said of his creation.
While in a one on one trial scenario a lone Wulfen would not be able to exploit those mistakes, a Star with a Wulfen or two has partners that can exploit those lapses in judgment, particularly if the Wulfen is used as a rabbit to draw your opponent out. In a one on one trial, the A, B, and H configurations are better served, and knowing when to and not to fire, or when to shut off the stealth armor is key to using the Wulfen successfully. Other configurations are geared towards missions that other clans are not used to but the Wolves have proven quite adept at. Supply raids, ambushes, and headhunting missions. All missions geared to pin down and dominate your foes.
Stealth armor also gives a savvy ristar another tool to exploit in a trial environment. in Era Digest: Golden Century we are told that a Clan Trial can be almost anything, and the one-upmanship game can reach ludicrous conclusions. The most infamous example comes from the BattleTech Animated Series when Kristin Redmond bids away her medium lasers. For a Wulfen pilot, the stealth armor becomes another asset that they can forsake to prove their personal dominance.
So as I said, if anything in a round about way, the Wulfen already proved my previous point. Whereas the home worlds saw stealth technology as anathema, at least one Inner Sphere Clan has learned, both through observation and through practical application, the benefits.
The question now is, will other Clans follow, and if so how far? With the Horses developing Quad Vees and the Foxes utilizing Inner Sphere OmniMechs freely in their Touman, it is clear the tech race between Clan and Sphere is going both ways. We truly do seem to find ourselves in interesting times.