The mechs of OPDS: A Field Guide

Basic Training

ALL mechs in OPDS are inspired by authentic WWII 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.

Armored Cousins

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.

Mech Classes

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).  

AAFVs - "Anthro Mechs"

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.  

Walking Tall

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.

Versatility and Adaptability

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.


Reverse Jointed Legs and Dedicated Weapon-Arms

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.   

Maximum Offense

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. 

Sniping Specialists

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.  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 Best of Both Worlds

Thusly dubbed 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.

Low Cost, High Yield

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 retaining some allowance for versatility and close quarters combat potential.

The inclusion of only a single articulated arm significantly lowers both production cost and maintenance demands. 

Tilting the Tide

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; 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. 


Ditching Tracks and Wheels in Favor of Legs

Biped/Multiped AFVs. Designation for AFVs that have had their tracks and wheels removed in favor of walking leg systems. These include bipeds, quadrupeds, hexapods, octopods, and in rare cases even decapods. The Multiped designation refers to any vehicle with more than two legs.

Firing from cover is also much easier for any legged vehicle, enabling it to peek over rises in terrain without exposing the entire vehicle. 

Other advantages of a legged configuration include enhanced fording ability. In the European theater, the constant race for control of bridges and main roads is less fraught when legged vehicles -that can wade through deep water- are afoot. 

Bipedal Convert

Above is a typical bipdeal conversion of a pre-existing  armored fighting vehicle; in this case, what was originally a US Army M16 AA halftrack, can now follow wherever any other legged vehicle in its combat group may lead. 

The traditional wheel+track setup is still superior for attaining maximum road speed, but when dealing with the toughest terrain, nothing can beat legs!  

Multipedal Conversion

Multipedal conversions of tracked vehicles truly found their niche among the pantheon of casemate style (turret-less) tank destroyers.

Whereas a standard tracked tank's mobility and penetration power remain relevant in a battlefield populated by walking mechs, the multipedal conversion of destroyers was a perfect fit. 

Destroyers are snipers -essentially long range specialists that rely on surprise and concealment.

Multipedal TDs can crouch down lower than their tracked forebears, and the added agility of legs enables them to compensate for both the limited traversal, and elevation/depression of their main weapons. 

Panzer Zu Fuss -"Pzf"

Hergestellt in Deutschland

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. When the 3rd Reich began stomping across European countries at brisk pace, the task was suddenly thrust upon the allies to either catch up with German Pzf Technology, or perish under its heels.

Delusions of Grandeur

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.    

Small Beginnings

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 German Mech Destroyer

Jagd Panzer Zu Fuss. A “hunting” Pzf. The German version of a Mech Destroyer. Designed specifically for fighting other mechs. Though they had reverse legs and weapon-arms in common, the heavily armed JgPzfs tended to be better armored than their US equivalents, due to the weight saving practice of eliminating waist rotation. 

BlitzJäger Freya

A Jagd-Pzf III equipped with an experimental Tesla gun on the port arm mount, and a special generator on the starboard arm mount. 

The crounching SdKlf (Sonderkamplaufer multi-use biped) lower left is for scale. 

Heavy Jagd Pzf - "Fafnir"

A rough blueprint for a heavy German destroyer.

Note: the low crouching mode that is the specialty of any reverse-jointed mech destroyer. 

This formidable specimen is combining the firepower of a JagdPanther's 88mm gun with the colossal 380mm rockets of a SturmTiger.  

Sonder-Kampfläufer = SdKlf

Baby Blitz

Sonder-Kampfläufer is a broad German term for applied to various types of  fighting walkers, excluding Pzfs. Armed SdKlfs were a typical weapon of early Blitz years. 

The Sonder-Kampfläufers was an essential stepping stone for the recovering German industry, as it strove towards large scale production of the more complex walking armor. 

On the shoulders of dwarves...

In addition to providing experience and knowledge to German industry, the SdKlf was similarly invaluable to Axis command for development of large-scale Pzf tactics. 

Blitzkrieg was a revolutionary enough concept for warfare in WWII. Expert execution of such tactics with the added innovation of walking armor did not develop overnight. 

The SdKlf was an early-war workhorse that was tethered to the German war machine well past its prime.

From Dawn till Dusk

Even after German Pzf production reached it's peak, massive losses on the eastern front meant chromic resupply problems.

Once again, The SdKlf stepped in to fill the gaps, and performed wherever legged weapon and materiel platforms were needed. 

This duty included performance as a launch platform for many late-war wunder-weapons, which at least kept it employed away from the big-boy arena of the front lines.