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There was never much doubt about whether or not the Kodiak would be good. The question was not so much "will this be the best Clan Assault", it was "will this be the best Assault". And while the second question is still up in the air to a certain extent, it's pretty clear that we were all correct on the first one.

The Kodiak's most direct rival coming in was the Dire Wolf. The Whale still has unique options such as Dual Gauss & Laser Vomit as well as anything using 5 or more ballistics, but even these have a rough equivalent available. And those builds get run with higher mounts, larger engines, and sometimes even quirks.

It's more difficult to compare it with its IS rivals such as the Atlas, Banshee, and Mauler, as those mechs have different specializations that the Kodiak mostly can't match, and the others can't match the Kodiak's specializations either. But I can't honestly say that I think the Kodiak is straight-up worse than these mechs.

So is the Kodiak OP? Is it pay-to-win? These questions are very important to me in this game, as there have been a number of things that really straddled those lines, and in some cases crossed them. This has led to me getting very...suspicious whenever PGI announces a new mech for pre-release. So far, the Jenner and Hunchback IIC got close enough to make me uncomfortable, but they definitely didn't cross the line.

In keeping with that, the Kodiak is definitely not quite overpowered. It's not the best mech in the game, and it's not better than any of the current top mechs by a large margin. It fills the super-powerful Assault niche that has been vacant since the Dire Wolf's demise, but it doesn't do it as well as the Dire Wolf did in its heyday. It's certainly on the right side of the bell curve, but it's not an outlier.

I think it's time to talk specifics, though.

KDK-1 & KDK-5

I don't usually group variants together, but this is a special case. The KDK-1 has a couple of extra missile hardpoints that you won't use and the KDK-5 has a couple extra energy hardpoints...that you won't use. I do give a slight edge to the KDK-5 as the extra hardpoints give you more flexibility in where you place the weapons, but it's just not a big deal.

Not long ago, having all those energy hardpoints would have made these variants the absolute best no matter what. However, in the current state of weapon balance, they're not even the best builds the chassis can run. Add onto that the fact that these variants don't get the quirks received by the others, and it's just game over. But you can still do crazy things.

All that being said, even these worst variants are damn good, and they're not all that much worse than the others (probably a 3-way tie with the KDK-4 for last).



KDK-2

This variant pretty much obsoletes the previous ones. It has a similar (though less extreme) mix of ballistic and energy weapons, up to 4 jumpjets, and of course, quirks. All these things add up to make it the absolute most solid variant of the bunch, with a few great options for builds. Which kind of does make me a bit sad that I'm highlighting a Gauss Vomit build, but the Poptart just isn't quite as good.



KDK-3

So. Now we've arrived at the real stand-out variant of the bunch. There must be a dozen builds for this mech, all amazing and all competing for dominance - I haven't even been able to play all of them yet, and it seems like there's always another I need to try out. That sheer variety of amazing builds is what makes this my favorite variant, and the favorite of many others. So while you can run crazy stuff like Quad Gauss, I always find myself coming back to Dakka.



KDK-4

It doesn't have the brutality of the KDK-3, or the solid balance of the KDK-2, but the KDK-4 is powerful in its own way. It's pretty much on-par with the KDK-1 and KDK-5, but the quirks really do help it. Add onto that the fact that you're not shoe-horned into Laser Vomit (plus or minus a Gauss Rifle), and I already prefer it greatly to the KDK-1 and KDK-5. Plus, it gets to run one of my favorite builds I've played on the Kodiak. The problem is, the KDK-3 gets to run pretty much every KDK-4 build, and has more options. The KDK-4's main actual asset is that it doesn't have hand actuators, giving you a couple of extra slots to play with.



Spirit Bear

The Spirit Bear is one of the most exciting mechs we've seen in a while. At its base, it already has brawling weapons roughly on part with the AS7-S. On top of that, it has a cXL400 and MASC to pump the top speed over 90KPH. Historically, the only mechs that have come close to this combination of speed and brawling firepower have been the Timber Wolf and Victor, and this is able to do it so much better than either of those ever could. In a flat-out brawl, it will almost certainly lose to the AS7-S due to its superior quirks, but the Spirit Bear has a huge edge when it comes to actually closing on the enemy. It would have been my dread mech, a couple of years ago. Even now, it's definitely up there.

Not a lot of build diversity though. Oh, and the TCIV is meant to represent the MASC.



Verdict

The Kodiak is a very strong mech, with a lot of very powerful builds at its disposal. It's not broken or P2W, but it is in the danger zone. The problem is that I'm expecting the Night Gyr to fall in there as well, and once enough pre-order mechs start to fall in that zone...

But it is not a mech without weaknesses. It is the most nimble 100-tonner in the game to be sure, but it's still a 100-tonner and it does suffer a bit for agility. It also doesn't have the best hitboxes - the CT is massive, and so are the side torsos. Anything that requires face time is definitely going to feel these issues, but anything that lets you shield will benefit a great deal from those arms. But these aren't crippling issues, more like mitigating factors.

Anyways, what the Kodiak really brought up to me is that big mechs need help for agility. The most relevant solution I've seen, which is widely supported by a number of intelligent people, is to unlink engine size and agility numbers. This would let PGI actually balance mechs, rather than having to give out pretty nasty agility quirks for big mechs to be not just good, but pleasant. But this is a whole topic in and of itself (and I haven't considered it enough to offer a full solution personally), so all I'm saying right now is that something's gotta be done.

So now that I've got all that out of the way, let's score the bugger.

Off: 9/10
Def: 7/10
Mob: 5/10
Fun: 8/10
OVR: 7.25

For what it's worth, I know these scores are silly, subjective, and just about irrelevant. Just kinda feels good to put abstract concepts into numerical form. Tickles part of my brain.



GMan129 is an officer of the Steel Jaguar competitive team, he is the owner of and writer for MetaMechs, and he does some writing for NGNG as well. He has been playing MechWarrior Online since the early days of closed beta, and has spent far too much time and money on this crap. If you're interested in supporting his self-destruction, consider contributing to his PayPal or Patreon!

First thing's first, I (and Wikipedia) pronounce it "Jer", not "Jeer" or "Gurr".

So the Night Gyr is up for sale! Lots of people are excited about this, some people not so much, I have a bit of both emotions myself. So let's start out with reasons to be excited!

  • It looks badass. The Nova Cat is possibly my favorite-looking mech of all time, and that mech is (in lore) based off of the Night Gyr. And Alex, as always, has done a bang-up job on this mech, making it look unique and...meaty. Lots of people have compared it to Starcraft Marines, and while I don't think that's quite right, it's close enough.
  • It's got so much tonnage available. Raw pod space puts it over a Warhawk, but when you adjust it for heat sink count it's short a few tons. So basically, it's an Assault mech in a Heavy body. It's also got a load of hardpoints, up to 9 energy, 7 ballistic, or 5 missile.
  • It's not just a rehash of an existing Clan 75-tonner: the hardpoints and tonnage clearly gives it a ballistic focus, whereas pretty much all Clan heavies (and mediums and lights and most assaults) focus on energy or missile weapons, with ballistic boating pretty much relegated to the Dire Wolf. So that gives it a legit role! Plus, JJs.
And the reasons...not to be excited.

  • The variant with a CT energy hardpoint is in the reinforcement pack, and if you want more than one ballistic in an arm you'll need either the reinforcement pack or the Hero. There are still plenty of legit builds that can be run without those packs, but most of them will be just a bit sub-optimal.
  • It's slow. This is kind of a necessary evil if you want lots of tonnage to play with, but it does hurt its chances of being an amazing mech, though I still think it will be quite good.
  • Having endo and ferro is great for tonnage reasons, but your slots are super limited, to the point where you can't even run a laser vomit build. Well, you can, but it won't be pleasant - a 2xcLPL + 6xcERML build will have almost 10 tons free and only 21 DHS. Not great. Unless you hate laser vomit, in which case it is great! But missile builds also suffer, which sucks. And the 7 locked slots in each side torso also limit build freedom big time.
  • It's not quite a Nova Cat.
Personally, I haven't been able to get as hyped about it, but I think part of it is that I honestly think it'll be a really good mech. And I generally get more excited about mechs that will probably be sub-par but have something to them that looks amazing or surprising or what have you. An example of this is the Phoenix Hawk - a mech which was obviously bad to the point where I had to make myself write about it, only to realize that there are some pretty sweet prospects for the mech. And the Night Gyr...well, we already know it's going to be good, so I don't foresee me being taken by surprise by anything in a good way. So that all might just be my own weirdness, and I'll try not to let it influence my description of the mech, but...yeah, right off the bat I'm not terribly hyped like I was about the Cyclops.

Now that we've gotten all that out of the way, let's talk about builds. As with the Viper, I'll be going over build types rather than variants, but I'll try to point out how builds can be run with different levels of the pre-order.

Build 1: Gauss Vomit

  • 63 armor per leg, max elsewhere
  • 2x Gauss Rifle, 5.5 tons of ammo
  • 4x cERML
  • TC1
  • 15 DHS
I was really sad when I found out that you can't fit Gauss Rifles in the side torsos, but this build still works alright - I'm concerned about ballistic convergence, but even if the convergence sucks... You have a 58 damage alpha strike, at mid/long range, with very manageable heat, plenty of ammo, jumpjets...the list of awesomeness goes on and on. If you don't have the CT, there are other options you can run, such as with a Large Pulse and 2 cERMLs or just dual cERLLs (and wow that is a powerful long-range build). So yeah, I'm pretty sure that this build and those like it will be the best.

Build 2: UAC/10s

  • 58 armor per leg, 1 armor in dead arm, max elsewhere
  • 3x UAC/10, 7 tons of ammo
  • 2x cERML
  • 12 DHS
I don't think this build will be as powerful as Gauss Vomit, but it's certainly going to be powerful and may be more popular. You get zombie lasers, you get crazy DPS, you get...not quite enough heat sinks...but plenty of ammo and just so much DPS. If you don't get the reinforcement pack you won't have the CT hardpoint for 2 cERMLs, but honestly it might be a good idea to drop one anyways for a heat sink.

Build 3: UAC/5s

  • 56 armor per leg, 43 armor in RA, max elsewhere
  • 4x UAC/5, 8 tons of ammo
  • 2x cERML
  • 12 DHS
This is the another build where the limited side torso slots really annoys me - not only are you unable to run 2 UAC/5s in a Hero side torso, you need to armor up a second arm if you want to carry a reasonable amount of ammo. Plus, you need either the reinforcement pack or the hero in order to carry multiple UAC/5s in the same arm, and it's still possible to run quad UAC/5 without either of those things, but it'll be just a liiittle bit worse.

Build 4: Brawler

  • 54 armor per leg, 17 armor in Head, max elsewhere
  • 2x UAC/10, 4 tons of ammo
  • 4x SRM6 w/ Artemis, 4 tons of ammo
  • 12 DHS
This build is definitely not the main option, not even top 5, but you better believe that I'm gonna play it. A similar build exists for the Orion IIC (and it works relatively well there), but the Night Gyr has jumpjets, it will almost surely have better hitboxes, and it has an extra SRM6, which is huge. There are versions of this that use UAC/5s and lasers which could be better, and you'll almost certainly have ammo problems with this exact loadout...but goddamn is it brutiful. Unfortunately, it requires the Hero and Reinforcement Add-Ons...

Other Options

You can do Dual Gauss + ERPPC, very similarly to the Gauss Vomit build. This was the first thing I thought of in the Town Hall, but I think the convergence issues might hold it back a bit much. And there's a weird Dual PPC + Gauss build as well to take advantage of the high energy mounts.

There's also the possibility of 5 UAC/2s, which...it's not for me, but it will have some nice range. And this works particularly well with the Hero, which has a dual ballistic side torso.

After those, there's some weird bracket builds that could be fun, but usually they're just a bit too hot.

Value

If you just want to spend $20 on the base pack, I don't think you'll be missing out. You'll be stuck with some sliiiightly sub-optimal builds yeah, but there aren't any build types that you are straight-up limited out of. If you do want maximum freedom, the $15 reinforcement pack on top of that should offer good value - you get the best CT, you get the triple-ballistic LA and double-energy RA, and the only thing you get from the hero that the others don't have is the dual ballistic side torso, which requires UAC/2s or Machine Guns to even be used, and the dual missile in the other side torso, which...actually could be useful. The Hero also gets 2 ballistics in the LA and 2 energy in the RA, so if you don't need the energy CT, the Hero will give you nearly complete build freedom.

So each level and permutation of the pack has its own advantages for sure, and I don't think any of them are egregious.

Closing Thoughts

I think that the Night Gyr will be the strongest new mech release currently slotted...besides the Kodiak. And honestly, I don't think there's nearly as much that's exciting about the Night Gyr as the Kodiak, but if you do decide to get the Night Gyr, I doubt you'll be disappointed.

However, there is one thing I really want to talk about. And this bit is aimed at you, PGI.

Implement the Laser Heat Sinks.

In the FAQ, there is this mention of the Laser Heat Sinks:

Quote
Q: Will the Night Gyr come with its Laser Heat Sinks?

A: We are currently evaluating options for providing the Night Gyr with some of the traits provided from its use of the special Laser Heat Sinks in standard BattleTech lore. However, it is unlikely that Laser Heat Sinks themselves will be added to MWO as a distinct item; it is more likely that the Night Gyr will be provided with a special Quirk implementation to account for its use of Laser Heat Sinks.

Additionally, we are also evaluating the feasibility of adding a special glow effect to the Night Gyr when overheating to help distinguish the Night Gyr’s traditional use of Laser Heat Sinks, but whether this glow feature is implemented in the final design is still to be determined.


I think that the Cyclops set a precedent with its global super-quirk that you should just run with. There is a saturation of samey mechs where so many chassis are lacking in flavor and just run the same builds the same way, and "hey this one gets an extra heat sink and better hitboxes." is not enough. Adding a characteristic to better differentiate a chassis could be a huge deal going forward, and future-proof these mechs from being obsoleted. It's not going to fix everything wrong with MWO, but I could see it accomplishing at least part of what the original quirk system was designed to do. And yaknow what? If it is well-implemented, it is exactly the sort of thing that would make me excited about the Night Gyr.

I dunno about the glow thing, though...maybe just if you get hot.




GMan129 is an officer of the Steel Jaguar competitive team, he is the owner of and writer for MetaMechs, and he does some writing for NGNG as well. He has been playing MechWarrior Online since the early days of closed beta, and has spent far too much time and money on this crap. If you're interested in supporting his self-destruction, consider contributing to his PayPal or Patreon!

<a href="http://youtu.be/Xe-GL_SPt90" target="_blank" class="aeva_link bbc_link new_win">http://youtu.be/Xe-GL_SPt90</a>

The Cyclops is here! This is the first time in a while that they haven't teased the mech in advance at a townhall, and it's nice. Not as nice as just releasing a new mech for C-Bills like any other game might but...still. Feels good to just see what a mech can do right off the bat, it's way more exciting. For example, if you'd just told me that the Cyclops was coming without telling me the specific variants & hardpoints, I wouldn't be particularly enthusiastic. I'd think "sure, it's a nice mech, but doesn't add anything that new!" And I'd be wrong.

The Cyclops is the most usefully diverse mech we've seen in a while, and the best way to see this is by comparing it to other recently introduced mechs.

  • Viper: Omnimech, pretty much only going to be used as an energy boat
  • Phoenix Hawk: A few variants can do different sorts of energy boat builds, but it's all energy boating (and a few useless variants)
  • Kodiak: One variant's a full-on brawler, one is dakka, but the rest are varying degrees of Laser Boating with maybe a couple Gauss thrown in
  • Archer: Missile boat
  • Rifleman: Ballistic & energy boat
  • Warhammer: Ballistic & energy boat
  • Marauder: Ballistic & energy boat
  • Mauler: Ballistic boat
  • Black Knight, Crab, Wolfhound: ...sigh
A few have some variety to them, but the Kodiak is the only one with more than a couple of actually good ways to play the chassis. And sure, maybe this doesn't matter to you and you enjoy your bracket builds and special snowflake playstyle...but it matters to me. I love playing different sorts of things, but it's way more fun when it's useful. And that's why I'm actually kind of excited to play the Cyclops.

We're looking at a Mauler-style dakka variant, an Archer-style missile variant, an Atlas-style ballistic/missile brawler, a Banshee-style dakka/laser variant, an ECM variant, and a laser boat/Boar's Head-style energy variant. In other words, PGI has managed to create a unique role for each mech without resorting to quirks, and none of these roles suck.

A point could certainly be made that each of these variants has an existing counterpart outside of the chassis, and to some extent that's true. But that's also nothing new - it's been a long time since a new mech added a new build to the game. A really long time. The biggest "new" things have been along the lines of a mech having more of this type of hardpoint than any mech has had before, or an Assault mech being allowed to use two AC/20s, and even those weren't that exciting after the initial charm wore off. So yeah, that's not a huge deal, and it's not even all that true anyways - each of the variants has something about the hardpoints or tonnages or slots to make it distinct from other mechs with similar hardpoint layouts.

But even if each one was a carbon copy of an existing mech, there's a new super-quirk thing that PGI is putting in! It is the "Tacticon B-2000 Battle Computer" (yes, that's canon). It's not a module or equipment or anything that needs to be equipped, but it increases the sensor range of all Cyclopes (yes, that's the plural of Cyclops). Oh yeah, and it increases the sensor range of friendly mechs within a certain radius of the Cyclops. And...that's pretty cool.

Each variant is unique from the others, each variant has the potential to be good, and the chassis itself is different enough from other mechs. It is the most varied mech that PGI has announced since Clans, and the best part? Those of us that looked at it in Sarna, in TRO, in the Record Sheets...we saw that the hardpoints look boring. And in MWO, they're exciting! Seriously, whoever designed the Cyclops deserves a cookie.

Oh and, speaking of people that deserve a cookie, check out that goddamn Special Variant camo! Lots of people have made lots of comparisons, but to me it seems beautifully Lovecraftian. I don't expect PGI to do this (probably would require a good deal of extra time in the modeling process), but I think it would be really cool if all those eyes had little recessed domes associated with them, to add texture to the most badass skin I've seen.

Now then. Let's talk builds!

CP-11-A (S)

This is the base variant, and comes with 3 ballistics in the RT, 3 energy split between the arms, and 3 missiles between the CT and LT. Right off the bat, I am reminded of the BNC-3E and the MAD-3R, and those builds are obviously going to be go-to's (3xAC/5 and various amounts of Large Lasers and Large Pulse). But I find a different build to be a bit more...tantalizing.

  • Endo, Standard Armor (arms at 0, legs at 57, max elsewhere), STD310 (60 KPH)
  • 3x AC/5, 7 tons ammo
  • 3x SRM4 with Artemis, 2.5 tons ammo
  • 13 DHS
Obviously it isn't quite as good as dakka with lasers, but...it looks nearly as good and much more fun. And it looks uniquely fun; as far as I can tell, only the Mauler can run these weapons, and it doesn't make much sense on a Mauler.

CP-10-Q

This is the Archer-style super-missile-boat variant, with a total of 7 missile hardpoints spread symmetrically between the side torsos and CT. Unfortunately, one of those hardpoints being in the CT means that you can't run all SRM6s with Artemis, but you can run...

  • Endo, Standard Armor (one arm at 0, other at 22, legs at 62, max elsewhere), STD335 (64.8 KPH)
  • 6x SRM6 with Artemis and 1x SRM4 with Artemis, 8.5 tons ammo
  • 14 DHS
With an 86 damage alpha strike, this will be one of the most offensively powerful brawling assault mechs. Heat and speed issues could absolutely hold it back from the mainstream, but there are lots of plausible permutations of this build. And hey, on the off-chance that this is XL-safe, you can fit a 400... In the development of this variant, I highly recommend implementing generic missile heat gen quirks and structure boosts to make such a build decent.

CP-10-Z

This variant is basically the mini-Boar's Head. It could end up being a straight-up laser vomit variant, but that'd be a damn shame because of the other option(s) it has at its disposal.

  • Endo, Standard Armor (legs at 69, max elsewhere), STD350 (67.7 KPH)
  • 1x AC/20, 4 tons ammo
  • 6x Medium Laser
  • 18 DHS
In a lot of ways, it really is the mini-Boar's Head. Maybe it's a bit weaker offensively, probably it'll be weaker defensively, but it's still strong and it's still fast. Plus, you can run something like 6 Larges or 3 Large Pulse and 3 Meds or whatever.

CP-11-A-DC

Just like the 10-Z was the mini-Boar's Head, this is the mini-Atlas AS7-S. Except it has an extra ballistic. And a missile hardpoint in the CT. So it's really not a mini-AS7-S, it's just sort of similar. And sure, you could use an AC/20 or 2 UAC/5s and a bunch of SRMs...but you could also do this:

  • Endo, Standard Armor (arms at 0, legs at 65, max elsewhere), STD310 (60 KPH)
  • 4x SRM4 with Artemis, 4 tons ammo
  • 2x LB 10-X AC, 4 tons ammo
  • 13 DHS
Heh heh heh. Honestly, I don't think that this will be bad at all. Not great, but...if you've played the LBX/SRM Mauler before, it's kind of embarrassingly effective. And I think this will be better.

CP-11-P

This is the ECM variant. That is pretty much its entire identity, honestly, and that's why this is by far my least anticipated variant. But there are still some decent builds available.

  • Endo, Standard Armor (legs at 53, max elsewhere), STD300 (58 KPH), ECM
  • 2x UAC/5, 6 tons ammo
  • 3x Large Laser
  • 14 DHS
Yeah, it's pretty much whatever. The build is really nothing new, and even the current mechs that can play it aren't particularly exciting. But it doesn't suck, and it has ECM. So, that's something. I guess.

CP-S 'SLEIPNIR'

Back to a high note! The Hero is easily my most anticipated variant, in part because it's basically a Mauler. And it has the potential to be even better than a Mauler. I mean, it also has the potential to be worse, but it's got a head laser and it seems that it might have better hitboxes and mount locations.

  • Endo, Standard Armor (arms at 0, legs at 57, max elsewhere), STD305 (59 KPH)
  • 4x UAC/5, 9.5 tons ammo
  • 1x Medium Laser
  • 10 DHS
My most hyped thing about this mech is that it seems like - there's been no official confirmation but it seems like - the laser will come out of the eyeball. I just feel like part of the reason that this variant even has a head laser (none of the others do, and PGI only has full freedom on hardpoint locations when crafting a hero mech) is so that they can turn the lens of the cockpit into a laser. And if I'm right about that, it was absolutely the right call.

Value Advice

As always, not gonna say whether or not you should buy it, it's your money, your time, your priorities, etc. But if you are planning on buying it...I'd recommend the base $20 pack plus the hero.

The Hero is very likely to be the best variant, I wouldn't be surprised if it's also the most fun variant, and you get that C-Bill boost on top of that and a pretty nifty camo. In comparison, the $15 add-on pack has the kind-of-boring ECM variant, and the pretty exciting Atlas-style brawling variant. But I don't think that those two mechs, even put together, will be on par with the magnificence of the Hero.

But honestly...if you don't want the Hero, or maybe you want to spend the extra 15 bucks on the add-on variants, or the extra 20 bucks on the special variant and premium time and all the other goodies PGI is offering...knock yourself out. There are absolutely legitimate reasons to do any of those things. Just...maybe wait until we're closer to the close of Early Adopter Rewards on May 20 just in case we hear something new that may influence your decision.

Closing Thoughts

I think that the Cyclops is a well-designed (well-adapted?) mech. I think it'll be fun, and I think it'll be pretty good. But keep in mind that my unbridled enthusiasm way back at the top stems from my expectation of it being fun. It's not because I think it'll be an incredible, top-tier mech that will revolutionize the meta - that's the Kodiak. I mean, it might be all those things, but I kinda doubt it.

Also can I just say...I don't think pre-order decisions in this game should be based on whether or not you think a mech will be strong - not only is that a huge risk due to the importance of stuff like quirks, hitboxes, and other unknowns, but...it sends the wrong message. It says that you want to pay PGI for an in-game advantage over those who don't. On the other hand, pre-ordering a mech pack because you think it will be fun or interesting or innovative tells PGI that you will reward them for adding quality to their game.

But it's your money, do what you want.



GMan129 is an officer of the Steel Jaguar competitive team, he is the owner of and writer for MetaMechs, and he does some writing for NGNG as well. He has been playing MechWarrior Online since the early days of closed beta, and has spent far too much time and money on this crap. If you're interested in supporting his self-destruction, consider contributing to his PayPal or Patreon!

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