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Messages - GMan129

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1
Articles / Assassin: First Impressions and Review
« on: Yesterday at 12:00 AM »
In some ways, it's the culmination of years of dreaming. In others, it's just another medium mech. When it comes to mediums, it takes a special blend of nostalgia and cool builds to get me hyped, and the Bushwacker nailed it. However, I've never been particularly fond of the Assassin, and most of the variants seem like more Vindicators and Phoenix Hawks. But there is one build that really got me going.

Years back, when builds using four SRM4's first became popular, it always annoyed me how light the weaponry was in comparison to the 55 ton mechs carrying it. It struck me as woefully inefficient, but the only lighter alternative was the Loup de Guerre, whose hardpoints are just dreadfully spread out (though I still love it). It took years for PGI to release the BJ-2, which was much more weight-efficient in terms of boating these light missile weapons, but the engine cap drove me crazy. I still liked the mech, but it was a real disappointment.

And so I waited. And waited. And finally, my patience has been rewarded with the ASN-21. A mech with enough tonnage and hardpoints to just barely boat 4 SRM4A's, a mech that goes well over 100 KPH without issue, a mech with decent hitboxes, not-terrible quirks, jumpjets, and no glaring issues to speak of.

I don't want to give you the impression that the Assassin is some incredible mech that everyone needs to buy. To the contrary, if you haven't shared that same dream, I'm not sure how much enjoyment you'll squeeze out of the chassis. The other variants can be fun for sure - one of them even has some cool PPC nipples - but none of it strikes me as revolutionary. It's a dream come true, but a very specific, super lame, and honestly mostly faded dream.

So let's look at the specifics.

Builds

ASN-21



This variant makes the Assassin a worthwhile addition to the game. It's probably not a better pick even for tonnage than a mech like the JR7-IIC, and it's certainly not a better pick than a Griffin if you're considering class, but it's a cool new option and I'd love to see 8 of them going ham in a low-tonnage comp drop. I also had a good time swapping out the SRM4A's to SRM6's, or you could drop Artemis to push the engine even higher.

This is obviously my favorite variant, and probably the best. It's definitely the one with the most reason to exist.

ASN-23



This build is very similar in play to the ASN-21, but the extra heat and lower sync-up makes me a bit more queezy about it. Still, it's more than serviceable, and you can also try swapping flamers in for those pulse lasers.

This is also one of the variants with a solid alternate build: laser vomit. It seems to work decently on this variant as a very high speed poker, though I do question its merit over something like a Cicada or even Phoenix Hawk. Still seems worth mentioning.

I'm not as huge a fan of this variant as the prior one personally, but it seems to be only slightly weaker.

ASN-101



This variant has two nicely situated mounts - not super high, but high enough. I had fun playing it with this poptart build, but it gets really hot (though most of my games with it were on Caustic, Tourmaline, etc.) You can drop ferro and reduce the engine to an XL255 in order to pick up one extra heat sink, but any lower and there's really no point to the mech over the vastly superior BJ-3.

Still, I like the build enough to rate it as my second favorite, but probably more tied for 2nd or 3rd in terms of how good it actually is.

ASN-26



I ran it as a plus-sized Hollander, as a dakka boat, even a poptart. Nothing felt good or right, so I'm just gonna go with this build. It's alright, I guess. Problem is, this variant is just a worse version of lots of other mechs, chiefly the BJ-1. Speed is all it has going for it, but the ballistics we have are all too heavy, and its energy mounts and quirks aren't great.

This is one of the bad variants for sure, but I hesitate to say worst. Least favorite, probably.

ASN-27



Yeah, I used it as a LRM boat. And honestly, it performed better than most of the Assassin builds I tried out...which makes me so, so sad. It's not even really a good LRM boat (though the speed and ECM make it more versatile than your LRM80 assault), but it's workable.

Right now this is probably my second-least favorite variant, and the second worst overall.

DarkDeath



This variant is pretty well optimized to not be optimized. Like a miniature Pretty Baby. So I gave in and used this...thing. It's not pretty and it's not great, but it actually worked decently well, and was pretty fun to boot.

That being said, it's probably the worst variant. In the middle for fun though.

Civil War Tech Predictions

While some of the Assassin variants are pretty bad, there's a chance that the new tech in the Civil War update will help out with those issues. Double RAC/2s on the ASN-26 could be cool, or MRM boating on the ASN-27 and DarkDeath. Running the ASN-21 as a super-fast streak boat could also be a thing, but nobody wants that.

That being said, other mechs will probably continue to do its job better, and being super-maneuverable isn't quite enough.

Final Thoughts

Yeah, it's not a good mech. Even the best variants aren't gonna shake up the meta or anything like that. But at least it's got some strange to it, and I can appreciate that.

I can also appreciate that the three best variants are all in the base pack, and the Hero is (in my opinion) the worst of the bunch. I'm not at all a fan of the mech pack model, but that's how it's supposed to work.

Score

Good: 3
Fun: 8

I'm simplifying the score system a bit. Still completely silly and subjective, but at least now I don't have to worry about the murkiness of comparing it to mechs in different classes or the same class or role or...well. Yeah. It's much more simple, and hopefully more useful.



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 checking out his Patreon!

2
It's finally here! With the timeline skip, we'll be looking at 4 new fan favorite mechs as well as oodles of new tech to shake up the battlefield (and balance), hopefully for the better. We'll see.

First up, we have the Uziel. This is one of the mechs that really sticks in my memory from the MW4 days; with a unique shape to it and some cool loadouts, even stock. I love the style for it in this game; it was one of the better-designed mechs in MW4 (even the original art for it is pretty good) and it seems that Alex has stayed pretty close to that design, which pleases me. The biggest gripe I have with this mech (which isn't much of a complaint, more of a pet peeve) is its Hero mech: the Belial. Now, it took a reddit thread to jog my memory of why that sounded so familiar, but it's because the mech was introduced in MechAssault as an OP (iirc) version of the Uziel with a Gauss Rifle in each arm. I do think it's cool for PGI to pay it some homage, and copying that build over to MWO would have been a bit absurd (even with Light Gauss it'll go slow and have very little armor), but I really wish that they'd have gone all-out with it.

Next is the Annihilator. This mech is known for two things: tying the Urbanmech for the slowest thing on the battlefield, and carrying a ridiculous amount of firepower. The best way to describe this thing is as the Inner Sphere Dire Wolf; it has the same maximum engine, very similar hardpoints, and probably very similar builds as well. The mech's design is really quite odd, but again, it's in a way that's faithful to the original. Even more than the Cyclops, the shape of this mech's neck and head conjure images of the Geth from Mass Effect, lending a suitably alien aesthetic to this mech. Still, I would love to see it without its hands waving in the air.

The first clan mech of the pack is the Cougar. While I have appreciated this mech a great deal in other games, and I think it'll be a real hoot in MW5, I gotta say I'm a disappointed in it here. Weighing in at 35 tons and running at 87.1 KPH after speed tweak, it is the single slowest light mech in the game, and it's even slower than most mediums. Needless to say, I have very low expectations for this mech, but it does have roughly 18.5 tons of pod space. So who knows, maybe it'll be a half-decent weapon boat.

Finally, we have the Mad Cat MK II. Easily one of my own all-time favorites, I cannot wait to play this thing. The design is great; it has a very IIC approach of keeping similar features but using new geometry, and I am in love with the arms. As with the Uziel, it seems to stick pretty closely to existing art for the mech, and that's not a bad thing at all. The mech appears to have pretty good hitboxes (assuming that the missile pods go away when you don't have missiles), lots of hardpoints, relatively high mounts (dem arms), and on top of all that, it's a nomnimech (as in, not an omnimech). So it'll have lots of options for customization. I'm worried that its builds will be too symmetrical and its arms too wide, but it still looks pretty good.

Perhaps more important than all of these new mechs is the new techs! Seriously, all of the new options have the potential to completely change the meta. I wanted to do a short list of all the bits I'm excited about, but really the list of things I'm not particularly excited about would be way shorter (Stealth Armor, LAMS, IS ER lasers, IS Streaks, LMGs, LAPs, and LTAG). Not to say they won't be good, they just don't tickle me yet.

As such, I'm going to be going over builds as usual, but with an emphasis on making the most of the new technology. I'm also saying that each point of Light Ferro weighs .0296 tons, which seems to line up with the Belial build. But without further ado, let's take a closer look.

Uziel

Not sure if it'll be better than the existing mediums, but it's fun to think about its futuretech possibilities.

UZL-3S

  • Endo, Light Ferro (stripped arms, head at 14, max elsewhere), XL265 (92.3 KPH), 5 JJs
  • 2x Heavy PPC
  • 13 DHS
It'll probably be too hot to be legit, but if so you can cut a few JJs for a larger engine and extra heatsink.

UZL-2S

  • Endo, Ferro (stripped arms, legs at 34, head at 4, max elsewhere), XL255 (88.8 KPH), 1 JJ
  • 2x Light Gauss with 4 tons of ammo
  • 10 DHS
The armor's too low, there's not enough ammo, and I'd prefer a couple more jumpjets, but if the Light Gauss is good enough...

UZL-2S [part 2]

  • Endo, Ferro (stripped arms, legs at 40, head at 8, side torso at 15, max elsewhere), STD250 (87.1 KPH), 2 JJs
  • Heavy Gauss with 4 tons of ammo
  • 10 DHS
Who needs a shield side when you're just a super-sized Hollander?

UZL-3P

  • Endo, Ferro (legs at 43, head at 12, max elsewhere), XL310 (108 KPH), 4 JJs
  • 2x Snub-Nose PPC
  • 3x Heavy MG with 1 ton of ammo
  • 13 DHS
If HMGs are any good, this could be an interesting way to approach them.

UZL-5P

  • Endo, Light Ferro (stripped arms, head at 14, max elsewhere), XL225 (78.4 KPH)
  • 2x MRM/40 with 4.5 tons of ammo
  • 10 DHS
Too hot, too slow, no JJs, and not enough ammo, but goddamn it's got 2 MRM/40s.

UZL-6P

  • Endo, Standard Armor (head at 16, max elsewhere), XL325 (113.2 KPH), 4 JJs
  • 6x ER Medium Laser
  • 19 DHS, TC1
Super simple, but I think it might be pretty good. We'll see what the heat's like; could be that this build runs "too cool", and it could fit better on a smaller mech.

Belial

  • Endo, Standard Armor (head at 16, max elsewhere), XL300 (104.5 KPH), 3 JJs
  • 4x Light PPC
  • 18 DHS
I'm feeling enthusiastic about this one. The question is, will it be better than putting 2 ER PPCs on any of the variants with energy side torsos.

Annihilator

So much weight...so much to work with...

ANH-2A

  • Endo, Standard Armor (arms at 45, legs at 72, max elsewhere), STD300 (52.2 KPH)
  • 4x Rotary AC/5 with 11 tons of ammo
  • 12 DHS
Yeah, this mech might end up with the highest DPS in the game. Depending on how RACs work out, of course.

ANH-1A

  • Endo, Light Ferro (legs at 56, head at 17, max elsewhere), XL300 (52.2 KPH)
  • 4x AC/10 with 8 tons of ammo
  • 12 DHS
This one's pretty much just a stock+ loadout. Kind of a personal fantasy to run 4 AC/10s in a mech, so I'm happy that's gonna happen. Obviously, the XL's gonna be a real bad idea.

ANH-1E

  • Standard Structure, Standard Armor (legs at 81, max elsewhere), STD300 (52.2 KPH)
  • 4x Snub-Nose PPC
  • 3x Light PPC
  • 22 DHS, TC1
I'm pretty sure that Light PPCs will have a ghost heat cap of 4, but I doubt Snub-Noses will get any more than 2. Could be fun if you don't mind shooting in 3 separate groups.

ANH-1X

  • Endo, Standard Armor (arms at 45, legs at 72, max elsewhere), STD300 (52.2 KPH)
  • 2x Heavy Gauss with 10 tons of ammo
  • Snub-Nose PPC
  • 10 DHS, TC1
mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

ANH-1P

  • Standard Structure, Light Ferro (arms at 36, legs at 62, max elsewhere), STD300 (52.2 KPH)
  • 4x Heavy PPC
  • 20 DHS
Yeah you know you like that.

Mean Baby

  • Endo, Armor (arms at 33, legs at 52, max elsewhere), STD300 (52.2 KPH)
  • 2x MRM/40 and 2x MRM/30 with 8 tons of ammo
  • 13 DHS
I'm droolin' just a little bit.

Cougar

Making builds for this mech felt like eating my vegetables as a kid. Or as an adult.

New Lasers

  • Endo, Ferro (head at 10, max elsewhere), XL175 (87.1 KPH), 2 JJs
  • 2x Heavy Large Laser
  • 3x Micro Pulse Laser
  • 16 DHS, TC2
I liked the feel of Heavy Large Lasers in other games, we'll see if they're any good here.

Gauss

  • Endo, Ferro (head at 10, max elsewhere), XL175 (87.1 KPH), 2 JJs
  • Gauss Rifle with 3.5 tons of ammo
  • 4x ER Micro Laser
  • 11 DHS, TC2
Meh.

ATMs

  • Endo, Ferro (one arm stripped, head at 15, max elsewhere), XL175 (87.1 KPH), 2 JJs
  • 2x ATM/9 with 7 tons of ammo
  • 10 DHS, ECM
Could be interesting if ATMs are any good. Basically the equivalent of either 2 LRM10s or 3 SRM6s.

Mad Cat MK II

Clans don't get as many fun toys as IS, but let's see what this kitty can do.

MCII-1

  • Endo, Standard Armor (61 per leg, max elsewhere), XL360 (69.7 KPH), 2 JJs
  • 4x Heavy Large Laser
  • 2x ATM/9 with 4.5 tons of ammo
  • 20 DHS, TC1
Don't worry, this was the least interesting build.

MCII-2

  • Endo, Ferro (65/66 per leg, max elsewhere), XL370 (71.6 KPH), 1 JJ
  • 2x LB 20-X AC with 5 tons of ammo
  • 4x SRM6 with 5 tons of ammo
  • 14 DHS
This is pretty hot, but it looks like a pretty goddamn sick brawler. Like the Scorch, but better.

MCII-4

  • Endo, Ferro (69 per leg, max elsewhere), XL360 (69.7 KPH), 1 JJ
  • 4x ATM/12 with 7 tons of ammo
  • 4x Heavy Medium Laser
  • 15 DHS, BAP
If PGI sticks with TT values, 4 ATM/12s is like 12 SRM6s when fired on HE mode. I feel like PGI's gonna nerf that. I also feel like maybe I should just go purely for ATMs...

MCII-A

  • Endo, Armor (69 per leg, max elsewhere), XL375 (72.6 KPH), 1 JJ
  • 2x ATM/12 with 5 tons of ammo
  • 2x Heavy Large Laser
  • 3x Heavy Medium Laser
  • 20 DHS
This one might actually be worse than the first variant. The CT ballistic seems a bit pointless.

MCII-B

  • Endo, Ferro (56 per leg, max elsewhere), XL360 (69.7 KPH), 2 JJs
  • 4x UAC/5 with 10.5 tons of ammo
  • 2x Heavy Medium Laser
  • 14 DHS
All that dakka comin' out of them arms.

MCII-B

  • Endo, Ferro (65/66 per leg, max elsewhere), XL335 (64.8 KPH), 2 JJs
  • 2x Gauss with 4.5 tons of ammo
  • 2x ER PPC
  • 17 DHS
Yeah, I know, it's not new at all. But it could be OP. We'll see how the hitboxes and weapon locations work out.

Deathstrike

  • Endo, Ferro (65/66 per leg, max elsewhere), XL375 (72.6 KPH), 2 JJs
  • 2x Gauss with 5 tons of ammo
  • 6x Heavy Medium Laser
  • 16 DHS
High damage, high heat Gauss Vomit.

And All the Rest

I wanted to include a few other mechs that struck me as being potentially awesome with the new tech.

LCT-1V

  • Endo, Ferro (head at 5, max elsewhere), XL190 (165.4 KPH)
  • 4x Heavy MG with 2.5 tons of ammo
  • 10 DHS
Again, maybe the HMG sucks, but if not this could be cool.

SHD-2H

  • Endo, Ferro (stripped arms, legs at 48, head at 16, RT at 15, max elsewhere), STD270 (85.5 KPH), 3 JJs
  • Heavy Gauss with 5 tons of ammo
  • 10 DHS
I just love that high mount and the 25% Ballistic Cooldown quirk.

MAL-1P, MAL-MX90, or Sleipnir

  • Endo, Armor (legs at 62, arms at 3, max elsewhere), STD315 (61 KPH)
  • 2x Heavy Gauss with 8 tons of ammo
  • 10 DHS
These guys look like the best option for a straight-up double Heavy Gauss build. And by best, I mean pretty much only.

Predictions

The Mad Cat MK II is gonna be one of the greats, the Uziel will be pretty good, and the Annihilator will be funny as hell (seriously, I didn't even scratch the surface of the possible silliness). Let's not talk about the Cougar.

I have no idea how the tech is going to be, though, since we don't have any of the actual stats. The Inner Sphere gets a lot more cool stuff than Clans, though, so that could do some interesting things to the balance of the game (I'm already hyped on Light Ferro).



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 checking out his Patreon!

3
The Supernova certainly lives up to its name in some ways, if not others. This energy boat has nearly enough energy hardpoints to satisfy the cravings of even the most ammo-hating pilot, but its (relatively) low engine cap prevents it from being a personal favorite. With a maximum engine rating of 325, you are not only limited to a meager 62.9 KPH, but also a maximum of 3 additional engine heat sinks. When compared to competing Clan energy boats in the Asault class, it falls far short of the KDK-5 and the MAD-IIC on paper, which is a bad sign for a mech whose supposed specialty is energy weapons.

But mechs don't live and die on paper, and the Supernova has some real merit when it gets to the actual battlefield. If you are fortunate enough to own a variant with side torso energy mounts, they can be a real pleasure to use; the SNV-C is made quite enjoyable by virtue of its high mounts, and the Boiler is able to benefit from the same (though that mech finds its true strength elsewhere). Hitboxes are another strong point of the Supernova, at least relative to some of its fellow Assaults: I found that I was frequently able to roll damage quite well, even if the arms are only barely usable as shields.

It's also worth mentioning the quirks on a few particular variants of the chassis. While these recipient variants are generally the weaker ones, it makes the leveling process much less of a grind. It makes it so there's really only one variant that I didn't enjoy (the SNV-3) and it's just one of those lovely little boosts to quality of life. Though all the agility quirks in the world won't make up for the pitiful engine.

Anyways, I think it's time we talk about...

Builds

SNV-1

The hardpoints are what you'd find if you stripped a stock DWF-Prime of its ballistics (and missile). So, not great, but there is a certain build that stuck out to me:



I will say that a huge part of my love for this build is just the way it feels. And a big part of that is putting the cLPL in last. Just knowing that the lasers are arranged so that a great big blue bolt fires from the center of a trio of medium lasers feels so right to me, even if the optimal way to build would be to put the cLPL in first so that it goes up top. But aside from all that, it's a pretty decent build, and can stand up at mid-range as long as you're not hill-humping.

This variant gets arguably the best quirks of the bunch, and that helps it rank as just below average for the chassis, in my mind.

SNV-3

My least favorite variant, and probably the worst. The hardpoints are thoroughly unspectacular and the quirks don't do much to help with that. The centerline energy hardpoints are the only truly unique factor, and after trying a few ways of using them, I eventually decided to forgo them entirely.



It's not a bad build by any means, but it's not particularly good. The wide arms and low mounts make trading a real hassle, and it gets hotter than a mech with that firepower should. It's not the best choice, but I suppose it's decent enough.

Despite getting some of the best generic quirks (just a tad better than the SNV-1 for agility, but worse on defense and offense), this is my pick for worst variant, and certainly my least favorite.

SNV-A

This is the most missile-oriented variant, and while I've seen a sad number of people making LRM boats out of it, I encourage brawling.



It's really hot for what it is, but that's not the end of the world. Still, it's not as good as I had hope for, and closing in this mech can be a real pain.

Despite all that, it's probably tied with the SNV-1 for my 4th pick. It's just got that unique flavor to it, and in the right situation it can really explode.

SNV-B

This mech is meant to be a pretty generic energy boat, from the looks of it, and I suppose it did that job. The high number of energy hardpoints made this build a no-brainer for me:



I don't think you can understand how badly I want just one more energy hardpoint in that center torso. That would mean that each side of the mech can fire 6 cMPLs on its own, it would have a much tighter fit of heatsinks, and I would be happy.

As is, it's still my 3rd favorite variant, though it only barely edges out the SNV-1 and SNV-A.

SNV-C

This is easily my favorite of the energy boats. Absolutely no quirks, but it has actually high mounts, which makes it pretty much the best at everything ever.



I'm breaking my cardinal rule of putting jumpjets on any mech that can take jumpjets, but you don't get a whole lot out of them anyways. This build and versions that replace 2 or all of the PPCs with cLPLs are my favorites so far, though there are plenty of ways you can take advantage of the high mounts on this beast.

Despite its obvious strengths, its lack of quirks and low engine cap reall hold it back. It's good and I had fun playing it, but it's not a mech that would keep calling me back for more. Still, the second best of the bunch in my view.

Boiler

This is pretty much a case of the Hero being better than the other options, and offering much more interesting builds. That being said, the main build I played wasn't exactly...groundbreaking.



It's not the only build you should run on this variant (there are some cool LBX options), but it's clearly the best as far as I can tell.

And it's the best variant, too. I'm not super excited about that prospect, but at least it struggles to compete against fellow clan assaults like the Marauder IIC and Dire Wolf.

Final Thoughts

It's an interesting and enjoyable chassis, but nothing really stands out to me. The Hero is the strongest of the bunch (which is a big no-no), and I think that it's strong enough to be concerning from at least a pay-to-optimize perspective, but I didn't find its power to be overwhelming. That being said, I'm a bit worried about if its jumpjets will propel it into greatness later on; certainly something to be wary of.

Despite my overall impression of it being not particularly special, it's not bad at all. Not on the level of the Kodiak or Marauder IIC for the most part, but I could see it being comparable to the Dire Wolf (at least certain variants). The best variants should be low Tier 1, high Tier 2.

Scores

Off: 8
Def: 8
Mob: 5
Fun: 5
OVR: 6.5

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 checking out his Patreon!

4
I'm a huge fan of the Bushwacker. Just, in general, it's always been one of my favorite designs. I think a huge part of that is the MechCommander 2 is possibly my favorite game of all time (yeah, probably 95% nostalgia), but it's also just always had one of those most interesting and MechWarrior-y aesthetic, up there with the Mad Cat. Honestly, in this game, something about the Bushwacker doesn't sit right with me. Maybe it's just a bit too long, or maybe it's that right torso, but something looks off. Not the end of the world, though, it's just a bit of a unique case because I'm usually a huge fan of the way mechs turn out in MWO (but I might be alone in this, too).

I found it fun to play, at least. It's not a revelation, and I've been a bit disappointed by those builds I was most excited for, but overall it feels good to play the Bushwacker. I think I'd describe it as a budget heavy more than anything else - I really do feel a bit like an Ebon Jaguar in this mech (which is totally appropriate), but a bit slower, more fragile, and less heavily armed. That being said, it's been doing pretty alright for me. I'm not blown away by its power, which I think is definitely appropriate for a medium, but I've been able to do work in quite a few games with some reliability.

It does have hitbox issues (I haven't died that often but I don't remember any of my deaths being to CT), but I think that could be easily addressed in a patch, and even without that, I was able to take a few more hits than I would be able to in other good mediums like the Enforcer.

I've found that the Bushwacker finds its niche at mid or short range. I tried out some more long range builds, including dual gauss, but I wasn't a huge fan of those builds. The Bushwacker looks a lot like the Ebon Jaguar, but it does not share its proficiency for trading.

So let's look at some of those builds. I might not talk much about every variant, but rather focus on the few that I really enjoyed.

Builds

BSW-X1

This is the prime variant. The tradition has historically been for the prime variant of each mech to be the most boring with the least options, but I think this is actually one of the better variants for the Bushwacker. 3 ballistic torso hardpoints is enough to make it unique in a good way, and the quirks aren't horrible (relative to the other Bushwacker). I went with this build:



3 AC/5s isn't the greatest build ever, but for a medium, that's pretty badass. In fact, the only other medium mech that runs this build is the SHD-2H, and it has to make massive sacrifices to do so due to needing a standard engine. The minimal offensive quirks on the BSW-X1 make sure that it's not overwhelmingly good, but it's still good enough. I also liked the 4x AC/2 build, but not quite as much. And they both have ammo problems.

I think this might be my favorite variant. Not necessarily the best, but most appropriate for the way I like to play. And also, probably one of the best.

BSW-X2

This variant's hardpoints are decent, but not super interesting to me. However, it does have the best agility quirks out of the bunch, which makes it my top choice for some of the more universal Bushwacker builds that can be done on different variants. Such as...



Man, I was so pumped for this build when the Bushwacker was announced. Double AC/10s has been effective on mechs like the WHM-6R for me, and I've really enjoyed them, but I haven't been able to make it work yet. It's still fine, but it gets destroyed in trades and DPS fights, and it's too big to be easily ignorable. I'm probably going to keep trying to make it work, though.

I think that this is the most versatile variant, and one of the best, but it also didn't have anything special on it to really get me carried away.

BSW-S2

This is one of the two variants that I was really not feeling. It doesn't have much to set it apart from the other Bushwackers (the BSW-P1 puts it to shame), and it didn't even feel like it had a reason to exist when there are mechs like the GRF-2N. I ran this brawler build:



And I really didn't feel anything special come out of it. Did alright, I suppose, and you might want to try it with flamers instead of mediums, but nah.

BSW-P1

Speaking of brawlers...this one is the bomb. The 6xSRM4 build leaps off the page, to be sure, but what I love about this variant is the number of ways you can actually build it out to brawl. So yeah, this is the obvious option:



But there are lots of other builds out there. My personal love right now involves LBX and Artemis, resulting in a much tighter spread. And I've heard people complain about the spread on this mech, but really, I didn't have that issue. I'm not normally a huge fan of brawling mediums in PUGs, but man, this thing made it work for me.

All in all, I'm calling this the best Bushwacker variant. Not my usual style, but that's not a bad thing.

BSW-P2

The energy hardpoints and heat gen quirks give this a clear niche, but I honestly wasn't a huge fan of it. You can run it with PPCs, full laser vomit, or hybrid without much issue, but this is the one that I definitely liked best:



The punch is pretty decent, but it's not great and it's not all that interesting. Definitely one of the bottom 2.

BSW-HR

The hero is very similar to the archetype of hardpoints established by the BSW-X1 and -X2, and runs mostly the same builds. Almost every build you run on the High Roller can be done on those, sometimes done better, unless you're stacking energy weapons, in which case you can look at the BSW-P2. That being said, the quirks do provide opportunities to optimize certain builds, such as this one:



You can run the same exact loadout on 3 other variants, but I think that the High Roller's energy range and turn speed quirks make it the most appropriate choice. And it's just a straight-up solid build. Nothing to really write home about.

This variant is probably middle of the pack...don't feel obligated to buy it if you haven't yet.

Final Thoughts

I'm a big fan of this chassis for a few reasons. It's got a great nostalgiac factors, it has some unique builds for its weight, and I have generally had a good time with it. That being said, it's not the strongest mech in the game. The Hunchback IIC reigns supreme, and that is also a very fun mech.

I think we might see as many as two or three of the variants in Tier 2, but the bulk will be Tier 3 at best.

Scores

Off: 7
Def: 5
Mob: 5
Fun: 9
OVR: 6.5

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 checking out his Patreon!

5
Reddit rejoiced yesterday at the reveal of the next mech. I imagine the rejoicing has died down by now, but at the time of writing, reddit itself has been dead for a few hours.

The jubilation was not without cause. It's been a year and a month since the last light mech was released (the Jenner IIC), and that one was announced in Summer 2015, so the Javelin represents the end to a year and a half of drought. Since the Jenner IIC, we have had 17 releases in the form of solo mechs, none lights (though a couple were super-fast mediums).

On top of all that, we have a price reduction! Sure, the Kodiak is still more cost-effective, but you're also getting enough extra goodies like premium time, mechbays, and camo nonsense to be "worth" over 15 bucks without adding in the mech (15 bucks of MC will get you just the 30 days of premium time with 500 MC left over). So it's still a pretty good bargain, even if it's not god-tier like the Kodiak. And it looks like this will be the last one-shot pre-order pack, with next one being a pack of 3060 mechs.

And this is all without talking about the mech itself. I'm not a light pilot, never have been really focused on that particular style, but it's still pretty neat looking. Aesthetically, humanoids are notorious for looking quite same-y, so that's a real risk here. Lights in particular don't have much real estate to differentiate themselves from each other, and the Wolfhound and Panther have already proven the issues with that. In spite of all that, I'm really digging the shape of this mech - perhaps it's just the pose it takes in the image, but it's bringing up thoughts of K-2SO and Bastion, with the sort of long-armed lankiness that we don't see much of in MWO.

In terms of performance, I'm about to talk about that in detail, but it at least seems interesting. Which is to say, very few of the builds are copy-pastes, and I think there are some unique options to consider.

Builds

JVN-10N

  • Endo, Ferro (stripped arms, 9 in head, max elsewhere), XL255 (148KPH), 2 JJs
  • 4x Streak SRM2 with 3 tons of ammo
  • 10 DHS, BAP
Let's start off nice and easy. It's been a long time since I've made a streak boat without saying "eugh", and...well this one isn't great. But it fits nice, it's fast, and it should do its job. Plus, if this mech has Firestarter syndrome (no torso pitch/yaw), at least your streaks won't care.

JVN-10F

  • Endo, Ferro (stripped arms, 9 in head, max elsewhere), XL280 (162.5KPH), 2 JJs
  • 4x Medium Pulse Laser
  • 11 DHS
4 MPLs ain't much to write about, but that speed is pretty swell. If the hitboxes live up to the art, we could be looking at a spider-esque harasser, and 4 MPLs are plenty of firepower for that. I do think it'll need some weapon and acceleration quirks to make that work, though.

JVN-10P

  • Endo, Ferro (5 per arm, 17 in head, max elsewhere), XL255 (148KPH)
  • 6x SRM2 with 4 tons of ammo
  • 11 DHS
This build gets me all tingly; I've always been an SRM2 fan and there are remarkably few mechs for which SRM2s make sense (the only one that comes to mind is a COM-1D). And honestly, they don't make that much sense here either - SRM2s are excruciatingly hot weapons, which means that 11 DHS is a nail in the coffin of this DPS mech. Still, can't wait to play it.

JVN-11A

  • Endo, Standard Armor (2 in LA, max elsewhere), XL255 (148KPH), 2 JJs
  • 7x Small Pulse Laser
  • 12 DHS
This is probably the most copy-paste build of the bunch, and I don't place much confidence on it beating the FS9-A in a meaningful way (even that wouldn't be saying all that much anyways). All that said, I'm sure this mech will be just fine.

JVN-11B

  • Endo, Ferro (stripped arms, 9 in head, max elsewhere), XL225 (130.6KPH)
  • 4x SRM4 with 3.5 tons of ammo
  • 11 DHS, ECM
The slowest build I'll be looking at, this one emphasizes stealth and power over manueverability. It doesn't even get access to jumpjets, but the ECM might make the difference, and it has by far the most offensive power of all the builds I've looked at seriously (though 6xSRM6 on the 10P could be hilarious...1 ton of armor, 1.5 tons of ammo, XL170 if you're curious).

JVN-HT

  • Endo, Ferro (5 in head, max elsewhere), XL255 (148KPH), 3 JJs
  • 4x Medium Pulse Laser
  • 11 DHS
The Hero mech is not more powerful than the other mechs (at least, not until quirks), but adds a feature that the others don't get without making it OP. I'm pleased. Feel no obligation to dish out the moolah unless you really like the idea of arm-mounted lasers, or having only 2 missile hardpoints, or (and this is the best reason possible) you love the paint job.

Value

Obviously, this is the cheapest pack to date, and as I spoke about earlier, the bonus goodies that come with the base pack sell for more MC than you can buy with 15 bucks. So if you buy premium time in 1-month chunks at full price, this is a great deal! But realistically, buying this should be for the mech. The fact that this is the first light mech we've gotten in over a year confers a certain value to it already, but of course how you personally feel about the mech is subjective.

At the end of the day, there's not much more I can say about whether or not it makes sense to buy the pack. The question is more about whether or not to buy the Reinforcement pack and Hero. Of those, I'd say the Reinforcements look much more attractive, with the JVN-11B being a nasty-looking assassin, and the JVN-11A being a relate-able energy boat. The Hero, though, does not appeal much to me. At any rate, I'd wait until we see quirks to pick either up, since I don't think you actually miss out on anything by doing so.

Predictions

The Javelin will be a pretty decent light mech, maybe even Tier 2. While the mech won't be considered a power-house, it will have a bit of the Spider's ability to be a real nuisance and do more damage than you'd think. And if it gets decent quirks and a small stature, it could be the replacement for the over-sized 35 tonners.



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 checking out his Patreon!

6
I thought that the existence of the Kodiak would make this Marauder IIC completely and utterly pointless. Not necessarily bad, but also not fresh, exciting, or unique. I was very pleased to find that this was not true, and some of my favorite Marauder IIC builds are rather unsuitable for the Kodiak. For the first time since the days of 3 or 4 variants per chassis, I have built out all variants with good, unique builds, and the only variant running a build that can be done exactly the same on another variant is the MAD-IIC-8.

In fact, I like this mech so much that I've had to consider whether or not there's a pay-to-win risk here - my experiences with the Marauder IIC have been very similar to the ones with the Kodiak at its release: reliably high damage games and a sore back. I do think that the Kodiak itself does mitigate those issues, as even without its quirks it remains such a powerhouse, but I believe the Marauder IIC is damn close to problematic without quite being there.

There are definitely some issues holding the mech back, too. First off, it's the most sluggish Marauder I've ever played - the lack of quirks can be a real pain when you're trying to corner in a mech that runs under 70KPH. The armor is also quite thin (though the hitboxes are pretty good), but the most unique issue I've had with it is the cockpit itself; the framework around the windows feels thicker than on most mechs, impeding more of my view when not fully zoomed in. At most, it's a minor nuisance, but I've certainly felt it.

But let's get on to...

Builds

MAD-IIC



This is one of my favorite cMPL boats, maybe all-time top. And I love my cMPLs. I prefer this to the KDK-1 and KDK-5 options for a few reasons: it's faster (by 5-10KPH), slimmer (easier to poke without fully exposing), and the weapon placement just feels better.

The build won't be a main meta pick, but it will keep me (and anyone else who enjoys almost-brawling-but-not-quite) happy. Of course, you can do more traditional laser vomit as well, but that's just uninspired.

MAD-IIC-8



This is the one variant that I absolutely hate. The only unique feature is a single missile hardpoint with a 15% missile cooldown quirk. I get that it's the only other actually canon Marauder IIC variant in the pack (I think the others are based on stuff, but not actually in canon), but I'm really glad that they used it as just the Early Adopter Reward so that missing out on it wasn't a big deal.

This build (and most others for this variant) can be done exactly the same on the MAD-IIC, but I still think it's worth highlighting it because it's what I was most anticipating going into the Marauder IIC's release. But that RT energy hardpoint is at the mech's hip, making the build so much worse. Really shoulda seen that one coming...

It's still pretty good, though. You can do it with 4 Large Pulse or 4 ER PPCs, but I went 2 and 2 and had more fun with that.

MAD-IIC-A



This variant gave me quite a bit of variety. Of course, nearly all of the builds are based on some sort of dakka, but there are lots of permutations to be found, such as this hotter, slower, longer-ranged version.

I'm still not sure whether this is the best variant, or just my favorite variant. There's an awful lot to say for the hero, but it doesn't have the asymmetry and the low mounts didn't treat me all that well on this chassis. But let's move on to the

MAD-IIC-B



This is the jumpjetting energy boat of the bunch, with a couple missile hardpoints thrown in for good measure (carbon copy of the MAD-5D's hardpoints). I ended up using this Large Pulse build for the most part, but I am really not a fan of the arm mounts and this "brawler" build is worth considering.

Probably my second-least favorite variant after the IIC-8, it didn't feel particularly fresh or good, but it also wasn't egregiously sinful.

MAD-IIC-C



This is the variant I was expecting to be the best, but after the UAC/10 nerfs, it's not quite living up to my expectations. In fact, it's the only variant that I've had a legitimately bad game in (though it was also my first VIP match, so I was a bit off balance). It's hot and temperamental, but despite all that, it's a good enough build.

I toyed around with a poptart (even threw an LBX5 in one game for extra alpha), but there weren't enough heat sinks, weapons, or jumpjets for me to really be happy with it. Overall, it's an above-average variant, but not exceptionally exciting to me (though I haven't tried this build yet).

MAD-IIC-D



ECM does not a good mech make. And the lack of a larger second energy hardpoint and the low cap on the engine make it hard to use this mech effectively. The best alternative build I've looked at is this full-on sniper, but both of these builds are just Night Gyr dupes.

It might have been OP if it had the similar hardpoints to the other variants, but I don't think gimping the speed was necessary. Definitely one of the worse variants.

MAD-IIC-SC "Scorch"



This variant is the one that gave me the most concern when it comes to balance issues. Not only is it the only one capable of fitting the devastating double PPC/Gauss combo, but it has the most missile hardpoints, making it pretty damn good at most everything. And it does work out that way for the most part; though its symmetry and low mounts do hinder its Gauss/PPC nastiness, it's a surprisingly brutal brawler (I can't not mention the 6s and 20s build, but I think the extra speed and heat efficiency make 4s and 10s superior).

If it's not the best Marauder IIC variant, it's the second best, and easily the most versatile.

Final Thoughts

What a mech. It's got so many good builds on it, and a few great ones. Not to mention, I actually had a lot of fun with it too. I won't be able to definitively say how good it is until I do more playtesting to compare it to the Timber Wolf, Night Gyr, and Kodiak, but some of the variants being Tier 2 is pretty much a lock, with Tier 1 looking pretty likely.

It's not without flaws, but the Marauder IIC exceeds my personal expectations in terms of performance and enjoyment.

Scores

Off: 9
Def: 7
Mob: 7
Fun: 8
OVR: 7.75

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 checking out his Patreon!

7
Man, I just want a normal Hollander...


But I know I'd only play it, like, twice.

8
Articles / The Late Linebacker Review
« on: 5 Dec 16 »
The Linebacker enters the field as a 65-ton heavy mech, with almost half of that tonnage dedicated solely to its massive engine. Even with this considerable tonnage sacrifice, it fails to run faster than mechs that already fill a similar role, and its lack of jumpjets hold it back when compared to harder-hitting heavies. At a point where we already have a half dozen clan mechs capable of running fast and vomiting lasers, this new release needed to bring something fresh to the table, and it seems to have missed its mark.

The Linebacker had very few things going for it leading up to release. A wide profile was not promising good hitboxes, and its pod space is even more limited than its most direct competitor: the Stormcrow. Technically it had more armor, but before the reveal of quirks, it seemed to be a strictly inferior chassis.

And quirks have certainly helped matters. In fact, the build which has yielded the best results for me gets a great deal of its power from the component and set-of-8 quirks that come with the LBK-Prime chassis, resulting in quite the competent PPC sniper. Many other builds also take some advantage of the bonuses that you get from equipping the correct omnipods, but for the most part, these bonuses come in the form of single-digit armor and structure bonuses, rather than sizable heat gen and duration reductions that the chassis is so desperate for.

Builds

PPC Sniper



The LBK-Prime's set-of-8 quirks are absolutely wondrous here, and some of those LBK-Prime hardpoints really accentuate the power of this build. At first, I was really excited about the prospect of mounting two PPCs way up high in those shoulders, but I quickly realized that this asym build was the way to go due to the quirks and the low cockpit.

This is certainly the Linebacker build that struck me as being the best, though it certainly wasn't the most interesting of the bunch. And despite being the best of the Linebacker builds, I'd have a tough time rating it any higher than "pretty good".

Brawler



I played around with a few variations on this idea, including with a build with a UAC/10, a Small Pulse boat, and another based around 4 SRM6s. But none of these alternatives had the DPS and punch that I was looking for. Rather, the Small Pulse/SRM4 combo suited me perfectly, with a plentiful alpha on a low cooldown.

It won't be taking the spot of any existing brawler mechs, that's for sure. But it's decent enough fun, if you're into that sort of thing. Just be prepared for the focus fire.

Gauss Vomit



Just in case you were getting excited, here's the meta to bring you back down. Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on who you ask), it's not even that good anymore, but it's more than serviceable if you're looking for something familiar.

Seriously, the mix of high and low mounts and the low cockpit really hold this thing back, and if you could just fit a PPC in that side torso it would be so much better. But the most that you can really fit with the Gauss is an ER Large.

Laser Vomit



Pretty typical stuff. Better than the Gauss Vomit in my opinion, but not by a whole lot, nor is it much more interesting. Still, every once in a while you get those games with a bunch of nasty free alphas and it works out. You can also run it with ER Meds or on another variant if you like.

Final Thoughts

Right, so, after the mech's been out for about a month, I can still only come up with three types of build worth bothering with on this thing. It's not a horrible mech, but...it's certainly lacking in variety. A mix of low tonnage availability and a super-low cockpit hold this thing back from being legit. I doubt we'll see this thing in comp without massive changes to the game in general, and I doubt any but the PPC build will break out of Tier 3.

Scores

Off: 5
Def: 5
Mob: 7
Fun: 3
OVR: 5

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 checking out his Patreon!

9
The Roughneck heavy mech was one of the many reveals that came out of yesterday, and I for one am pleased that PGI finally gets to create an original mech from the ground up. Based on the Loader King chassis (which also seems to be a new invention), this 65-ton battlemech has a suitably industrial aesthetic and I was rather taken aback when I first saw it. Though my initial hopes were along the lines of melee combat, I remain excited about the prospect of PGI's art and design teams getting to fully build a mech from scratch. Even if it ends up seeming like more of the same once it hits the game, I'm sure it's at least more fun to work on!

As far as its performance is expected to go, there are a few features that stick out to me. The first is the Hollander-style shoulder cannon, placed right at the top of the chassis next to the cockpit. This is bound to be a pivotal element of many builds, particularly those using energy weapons, which will have 4 high mounts instead of just one or two. The problem with focusing entirely on high mounts with the ballistic variants is that there aren't enough other useful high mounts, as the others are missiles (not great for hill-humping) or a head laser.

It also does seem to have pretty swell hitboxes - there are lots of gaps between relatively slender components, and the arms look to be massive shields. This is one of those things that you can never be sure about until you're in the cockpit, but I'm optimistic about its survivability.

Builds

RGH-1A

  • Endo, Standard Armor (stripped arms, 57 per leg, max elsewhere), XL295 (79KPH)
  • 2x UAC/5 with 5 tons of ammo
  • 2x Artemis SRM6 with 2 tons of ammo
  • Head Flamer
  • 12 DHS
I'm sure triple UAC/5 will be more popular, but it won't be able to surpass the JM6-DD with that build and it feels wrong to build this mech with more of the same (though I'm totally going to be doing that on the Hero anyways). This build looks like a really nice dense bracket build that would be a blast to play in the occasional game where you get to start at mid range and close to short without dying.

RGH-1B

  • Endo, Standard Armor (stripped arms, 57 per leg, max elsewhere), XL280 (75KPH)
  • 3x Artemis LRM15 with 8.5 tons of ammo
  • Head TAG
  • 12 DHS, BAP
I know, gross. At first I was gonna do 3 high-mounted SRM6's, but I figured that the next one would be a better brawler, and I couldn't think of anything particularly special about this mech besides the 3 side torso missile hardpoints. Don't worry, it'll pick up from here.

RGH-1C

  • Endo, Standard Armor (49 per leg, max elsewhere), XL300 (80.4KPH)
  • 4x Artemis SRM4 with 4.5 tons of ammo
  • LBX 10 with 2 tons of ammo
  • 14 DHS
This serves as kind of a jumbo SHD-2D2, running a very splat-heavy build that should put out crazy DPS. The lack of jumpjets and mediocre engine will both hold it back for sure, but it's still a good bit of firepower that should wreck shop in a brawl. I'm not a huge fan of how spread out those SRMs are going to be, but it should be workable.

RGH-2A

  • Endo, Standard Armor (stripped right arm, 53 per leg, max elsewhere), XL285 (76.4KPH)
  • 2x AC/10 with 6.5 tons of ammo
  • 3x Medium Laser
  • 12 DHS
This variant had me a bit discouraged at first as its only unique feature is the CT energy hardpoints, and I was having trouble translating that into a unique and good build. But I like what I came up with here - the WHM-6R taught me that this build will probably be quite hot, but I'm excited to see how it works as a mid-range DPS machine.

RGH-3A

  • Endo, Standard Armor (stripped arms, 57 per leg, max elsewhere), XL295 (79KPH)
  • 4x Large Pulse Laser (2 per side torso)
  • Medium Laser in the head
  • 17 DHS
Normally I'm not a huge fan of shoehorned laser variants, but I'm actually excited about getting one that looks to have 4 super-high mounted energy hardpoints! Two other options that follow the same idea are a quad PPC boat (you have to drop the head laser, but you go a little bit faster), and an ER laser sniper which could be a competitive powerhouse.

Reaver

  • Endo, Standard Armor (stripped LA, 45 per leg, max elsewhere), XL270 (72.3KPH)
  • 2x PPC
  • Gauss Rifle with 3.5 tons of ammo
  • 14 DHS
It definitely seems like the Hero is going to be the strongest of the Roughnecks, which is disappointing to be sure, but at least it doesn't seem like it'll be an OP mech in general. The low-mounted ballistic arm holds it back a fair bit, and better versions of the same build are already available on better chassis like the Timber Wolf. Still, can't wait to play it.

Value

While I'm certain you'll be able to make good use of the chassis by just getting the base pack of 3, the Hero does add the potential for quite a few other unique builds. Particularly when you look at how good those builds are compared to the interesting (but less-than-stellar) options you get from the base 3, it seems like your best bet if you're willing to shell out a bit extra.

But from where I'm standing, there's not a whole lot of reason to get the Reinforcement pack.

Predictions

Roughneck variants with high energy mounts are likely going to be included in many long-ranged competitive drops, and they'll shine well in PUGs to boot. Most of the other variants look to be great all-rounders, but I doubt they will amount to much more than bigger, ballistic-er Shadowhawks (that can't jump). I wouldn't be surprised to put a few in Tier 2, but I doubt any will make it to Tier 1 unless the game gets shaken up...though, I'll be talking about Mech Con within the next few days.

I'll also be posting a late review of the Linebacker - I got it late and was about halfway through writing it when family and Thanksgiving stuff took over, so apologies about all that, but I'm going to get back to writing it now! And by now, I mean after I get some food.



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 checking out his Patreon!

10
Weighing in at 40 tons with a max speed of just over 165 KPH, the Assassin joins the ranks of such mechs as the Cicada, Ice Ferret, and Viper as "technically a medium but really it's an oversized light". I don't think this is necessarily a good or bad thing, but the way the pack is structured does make me pretty happy.

First off, there's some uniqueness to some of the builds. Nothing is terribly radical, but at least it's not a situation like the MAD-IIC where virtually nothing is new (though I feel the need to point out that the Marauder IIC will absolutely be a stronger mech than the Assassin).

But the thing that I really love is how the hero and (to a lesser extent) the reinforcement pack both suck. Not the worst mechs in the game or anything, and there are a couple of decent things you can do, but by far the best and most interesting builds on the chassis are found on the base 3 variants. And oh man, that's some nice stuff right there. I don't even remember the last time that happened. Kinda wish that it had happened for a more brilliant mech, but I'm not complaining!

So I'm a fan of the structure of the pack, but let's dig into the particulars about the variants themselves.

Builds

ASN-21

  • Endo, Ferro (stripped arms, 7 in head, max elsewhere), XL325 (141.5KPH), 1 JJ
  • 4x SRM4 with 4.5 tons of ammo
  • 10 DHS
I'll just say it; it's a jumpjetting Oxide. Obviously we don't know what the quirks are, but...this build has the potential to be good. At the very least, I expect it'll be quite fun, and it's definitely my most anticipated. And yeah, unless it gets good PPC quirks, I expect it'll be the most powerful variant too. Which makes me quite happy, because it's so rare that the primary variant of a chassis is the best.

ASN-23

  • Endo, Ferro (left arm stripped, max elsewhere), XL320 (139.3KPH), 3 JJs
  • 3x SRM2 with 2 tons of ammo
  • 3x SPL
  • 13 DHS
Certainly not one of the more impressive variants, but it's still got my engines going. I've got this dumb thing for SRM2s, but they never make any sense, and slapping some small pulse in there too just makes me so pleased. Could get pretty hot, but the DPS is decent (and focused) enough.

ASN-101

  • Endo, Ferro (left arm stripped, max elsewhere), XL265 (115.4KPH), 2 JJs
  • 3x Large Laser
  • 12 DHS
This certainly isn't the most powerful build I've ever seen, and I imagine it will still work better on all sorts of Cicada variants, but there's a limit on how bad it can be at least. It's hard to tell where those side torso energy mounts are going to be, so here's hoping they're near the top!

ASN-26

  • Endo, Ferro (stripped arms, 7 in head, max elsewhere), XL280 (121.9KPH), 4 JJs
  • 2x PPC
  • 12 DHS
This is probably my second most anticipated build, and the good news is that you can do it on most of the Assassin variants pretty well! I like it here because it puts both PPCs in the same side torso, but you can put it on the ASN-101 without issue, or the ASN-27 for ECM and a better chance at quirks (though you'll have to make sacrifices for that fit).

ASN-27

  • Endo, Ferro (stripped arms, 7 in head, max elsewhere), XL265 (115.4KPH), 1 JJ
  • 2x LRM10 with 7 tons of ammo
  • 10 DHS, ECM
Yeah I'm really not a big fan of this variant, so I figured "what the hell, might as well showcase LRMs". It actually fits surprisingly well (can't manage Artemis, but that's not much of a surprise), but I doubt I'll actually play this build on release.

DarkDeath

  • Endo, Ferro (stripped arms, 7 in head, max elsewhere), XL280 (121.9KPH), 1 JJ
  • 2x Artemis SRM6 with 3 tons of ammo
  • 2x MPL
  • 11 DHS, ECM
Yeah, it's really nothing special. Cool that it can run ECM and all, but ECM isn't strong enough to make up for a massive dearth of hardpoints. We could be looking at another St. Ives' Blues (not the worst thing in the world, for the hero to be worse than the regular variants).

Value

If you're going to get the pack, I would highly recommend just going for the base 3. If the reinforcements or hero are worth a damn, it's going to be by virtue of quirks, and you can't count on that. I'd just go for the base pack, and add others on later if you like what you see in the quirks.

As far as whether or not it's worth buying in the first place, that's up to you. Obviously a 40-tonner isn't going to be giving you a bargain as far as the $$ to C-Bill conversion goes, but the idea is that the pre-order is there to support development rather than just buying this mech.

Predictions

The ASN-27's 50% PPC heat gen and velocity quirks will make it an absolute powerhouse and it'll be included in every comp drop.

But seriously, this was clearly never meant to be a super-powerful mech. I could certainly see some of the variants being used if the quirks are good enough (in particular the ASN-21 and any variant that can mount two PPCs), but I'll be surprised if more than one or two variants make it out of Tier 4. Pleasantly surprised, though.



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 checking out his Patreon!

11
Say what you will about the Supernova, its name certainly isn't false advertising. With a relatively low engine cap and 3 variants that have exclusively energy hardpoints, it seems to be a guarantee that piloting this mech will end in a blaze of glory (emphasis on the blaze). Even without taking ferro or endo, most of the builds that I've looked at still seem to be pretty hot options, to the point where I considered using a STD engine in a clan mech (but CXLs are so OP that even here, it didn't seem to be worth it).

I have mixed feelings about the Supernova. I am glad that we are getting another 90-ton jumpjetting clan mech, as the only other one we have is the Highlander IIC, which I am still disappointed in. Originally I was going to call it a failure, but I felt like that might be a bit too harsh...still, there are a couple of huge shortcomings that made me feel a bit burned by the Highlander IIC. The first was its agility: the relatively low engine cap of 325 made piloting the mech a real pain for me. It's not at the same level as the Dire Wolf, but the torso twist speed, accel/decel, and just the speed in general are all pretty bad; all of which exacerbate the issues that it has with poor hitboxes.

The other issue I had with the Highlander IIC was in terms of its weaponry. A couple of variants have pretty formidable loadouts, but the positioning of the hardpoints made it tough to put something truly threatening together, and the impressive amount of available tonnage was just wasted.

Looking at the Supernova...it definitely falls victim to both of these issues, if in different ways. As far as the agility issue goes, we're looking at a repeat performance, as it has the same engine cap. It's possible that this issue could be solved in quirks (though even the HGN-IIC-C's fairly extreme agility quirks don't feel like enough), but I doubt it based on recent trends. The saving grace could be that the Supernova's profile looks much more forgiving than the Highlander IIC's, which could be good news for its hitboxes. And if its hitboxes are good, the agility issues become less of a viability issue and more of a QoL one.

The thing that scares me on the firepower front is how energy-centric these variants are. The KDK-1 and KDK-5 proved that, after a certain tonnage, clan energy weapons just don't cut it. Energy weapons are the tonnage-savers, so it's hard to fill up an Assault mech with them, and you end up needing more heatsinks than you have slots for. Plus, the long durations of clan lasers make your large mech even more vulnerable to focus fire, and ghost heat only makes the situation worse.

Of course, not all of the variants are pure energy boats. There's one that serves as a missile boat with only 4 missile hardpoints (not enough for an Assault mech to brawl with, but I'm sure many people will be LRMing it up), and the hero...with two ballistics. Which is pretty much guaranteed to be by far the best variant. I will be impressed if any of the others even come close. Which is another thing that has me concerned about this pack - the variant that I expect to be the best is the Hero, and the next-best is in the reinforcement pack. Which drives me up a wall.

So let's talk about the mechs themselves.

Builds

SNV-1

  • Standard Structure, Standard Armor (69 per leg, max elsewhere), XL325 (62.9KPH), 3 JJs
  • 2x cLPL (1 per arm)
  • 6x cERML (3 per arm)
  • 27 DHS, TC4
4 energy hardpoints in each arm. Doesn't get much straightforward than that! This is definitely the most Nova-like variant in regards to hardpoints, but the build does end up looking a tad bit different. It does hit pretty much the maximum ghost-heat-less longest-range laser alpha, but it's still going to be hot and those arms aren't exactly high.

SNV-3

  • Endo, Standard Armor (max everywhere), XL325 (62.9KPH), 3 JJs
  • 4x cLPL (2 per arm)
  • 3x cERML (2 in CT, 1 in head)
  • 24 DHS, TC2
This one's a bit more extreme. The idea is that you can corner-peak on either side with 3 cERMLs and 2 cLPLs, which is pretty heavy duty. And your full alpha strike is also intense, as long as you don't ghost heat alpha strike and shut down. But it's gonna be hot as balls anyway.

SNV-A

  • Standard Structure, Standard Armor (69 per leg, max elsewhere), XL325 (62.9KPH), 3 JJs
  • 4x SRM6 w/ Artemis (2 per side torso) and 5 tons of ammo
  • 4x cMPL (2 per arm)
  • 25 DHS, TC1
I'm sure that most people will be playing this mech as a LRM boat, and I don't blame them for it (it's probably going to be better in that role), but something like this is more my speed. Keeps up pretty decent firepower at short range, and the alpha strike is pretty sweet (80 damage!). Probably my third-most anticipated variant.

SNV-B

  • Standard Structure, Standard Armor (69 per leg, max elsewhere), XL325 (62.9KPH), 3 JJs
  • 8x cMPL (3 per arm, 1 in CT, 1 in head)
  • 27 DHS, TC6
Very similar hardpoints to the SNV-3, but with one less energy in the CT and one added to each arm. Which means you can corner-peak either side with 5 cMPLs or fire both arms for 6, which is pretty nice. Not great for an Assault, but the TC6 is sure to help.

SNV-C

  • Standard Structure, Standard Armor (37 per arm, max elsewhere), XL325 (62.9KPH)
  • 4x cERPPC (2 per side torso)
  • 2x Flamer (1 per arm)
  • 30 DHS, TC1
There's another version of this build I was looking at that dropped 7 heatsinks and the flamers to free up room for endo so it can pick up 3 jumpjets and a TC7, but I'm mainly banking on this being a hill-humper, so it can afford to lose the JJs. That version will probably be better for the 4x cLPL fit, but I think the main version will be the go-to for ER PPCs. This is my most anticipated variant, and I think the most promising one to be the quintessential Supernova (the Hero may be more powerful, but it is more of a mini-Kodiak or plus-sized Night Gyr than anything unique).

Boiler

  • Endo, Ferro (65-66 per leg, max elsewhere), XL325 (62.9KPH), 2 JJs
  • 2x Gauss (1 per arm) with 5.5 tons of ammo
  • 2x cERPPC
  • 16 DHS, TC1
It's not gonna be a poptart (even with 3 hoverjets, I don't think it could do it) but it's still a brutal build and is likely to be the most powerful Supernova. On the bright side, there's no real reason to run it if you can just take a Kodiak, but it also has more interesting secondary builds than the rest of the variants (dual LBX20 + SRMs, for example). And I do find it ironic that the mech with the least reason to worry about heat is named the "Boiler".

Value

It's hard to say what the best value is gonna be in this pack. The base 3 variants...I'm not sure how much fun they're gonna be. A lot of it is gonna depend on quirks. But if you do decide to buy the pack, adding the hero on should be a no-brainer because it's the best, except you can probably have a better time just playing the KDK-3, so maybe not. The reinforcement pack adds the SNV-C which I'm really looking forward to, but it's not like it's a guaranteed winner. So I think my recommendation is to wait at least until we see the quirks - you miss out on those sweet goodies, but I think quirks are going to have a bigger impact on this mech than most.

Predictions

The Hero Supernova, and maybe the SNV-C, will be pretty good mechs, and seen relatively frequently in the PUG queue. There's no OP or P2W stuff in this pack, but there's a lot of risky-looking mechs that may prove to be disappointing. Competitively speaking, it's hard to see a team taking 3 of the Boilers over 2 Kodiaks and a Night Gyr, but perhaps it could be seen as a backup mech in MRBC, or in a tonnage-based league (or CW or Group queue) if you're 10 tons short of a Kodiak. Most variants will probably settle into Tier 3, but 2 or 3 could find their way into Tier 2 or even low Tier 1.



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 checking out his Patreon!

12
Not gonna lie, I didn't have terribly high expectations for the Huntsman. Basically, I was envisioning a mech that was slightly inferior to the Hunchback IIC in most regards, but with a few extra missile builds. This was actually kind of an exciting prospect for me; I've always been a big fan of SRMs, and since the Hunchback IIC's release, it's been easily one of my favorite mechs in the game. But it turns out, it's not that much worse than the Hunchback IIC at many of the classic builds that chassis excels at, and adds a fair few that aren't just SRM brawlers.

That being said, it is still very similar to the Hunchadoozie in many respects. The fragility factor is absolutely still there, and the agility is hardly changed (most Hunchback IIC builds end up going a skosh faster, but have one less jumpjets). The big drawback to the Huntsman ends up being the usual story with omnimechs - an inability to customize the engine and equipment, leading to less room (both in terms of tonnage and slots) to fit guns. But the available hardpoints do a lot to redeem this mech - depending on the level of pack you purchase, the mech can have up to 8 missile slots, or 5 ballistics, or 9 energy hardpoints. Which is a pretty stupendous amount, and very few builds actually end up approaching hardpoint saturation. But on top of that, it also ends up having superior torso twist and usable arms, which ends up providing great utility.

Which does bring up one of the greater issues I have with the Huntsman - not the mech itself, but the pack. If you just purchase the base 3 variants, you could have some fun with a couple of cool poptarting builds, even one or two pseudo-dakka mechs can be made to work. But there's not a whole lot available that is both unique to the chassis and good (the fun bit is a bit more subjective, but I wasn't blown away by any of it). Buying the hero pack does open up a couple more options in terms of SRM boats, including the build that I've had the most fun with so far, but the big draw of 8 SRM launchers is locked behind buying both the hero pack and reinforcement pack. It's hardly the first time it's happened, but it's not like I'm just gonna stop complaining about it.

Builds

SRM Boat



With a weapon density that rivals even the Splat Jenner, this Huntsman build miniaturizes the dumbest of ARC-5W builds into a compact and sexy package. With tactics ranging from flanking to short-range poptarting, the splat Huntsman is sure to tear through even the sturdiest assault mechs with ease. Sure, maybe it can't focus on components very well, it might not have enough ammo to last through an extended fight, and perhaps the heat is a bit ridiculous, but...8 SRM6s, yo.

I was actually expecting to prefer the SRM4A build to the SRM6 version, as its missiles come out in a pretty tight grouping, but it really just lacked the brutality that I was looking for. That being said, the Pakhet build took the cake for me personally, as it's set up perfectly for SRM poptarting (my favorite style of play right now) and its DPS, longevity, and quirks all felt superb.

Poptart



This is one of those builds that was certainly doable on the Hunchback IIC, but never got a lot of attention due to how low-mounted the PPC ended up being, and so both the the dual PPC and dual Gauss versions were favored. But on the Huntsman, these weapons are all in the top mounts, so you don't have to worry about that. And as a nice little bonus, this build (and many variations on it) is completely doable on just the base 3 variants.

Speaking of variations on it, I had a good time in the UAC/5 version of the build. It wasn't as sleek-feeling, but the extra DPS was greatly appreciated. There's also the dual PPC build to consider. It doesn't have the same oomph behind it as either of these, but it's popular on the HBK-IIC-A for a reason, and those reasons mostly carry over here.

Dakka



This is honestly the style of build I was least impressed with. Sure, it's doable, but you generally have to skimp on firepower, ammo, TC, or all of the above. Certainly one of those situations where the HBK-IIC builds are far superior.

But there are a few neat little things you can do with the mech to get some uniqueness out of it, like this dakka/brawler build I slapped together (just be careful of the heat).

Lasers



It's not the most creative build, and it's certainly not my favorite, but it works fine all the same. If you've played MWO in the last couple years, you probably have some experience with the style, and there's not much more I can tell you other than that the Huntsman can do it perfectly fine.

You can mix it up a bit too, but it's still going to be kinda disappointing if you're coming from the HBK-IIC-A.

Streaks



Probably my least favorite build I've run, but I did it. it's obviously devastating to lights, and it's not bad against other soft targets, but it's nothing to write home about. If you can get a pre-lock as you poptart, though, it can be absurd. You'll just have to deal with the heat.

Final Thoughts

While it doesn't quite hold up to the Hunchback IIC, it's a good enough mech that it will likely be seen in competitive play in a brawler/assassin type role. I recommend that, if you are planning on buying it, you go for at least the Hero pack and maybe even the reinforcement pack. Otherwise, you're not going to get much out of it that you wouldn't get out of the Hunchback IIC. At least that does mean that it's not OP or P2W or anything.

The SRM builds are quite fun; probably the most fun I've had playing SRMs in PUGs in a long time. But it's quite the investment to get to that point, so I don't think waiting for the C-Bill release is a bad idea at all.

Scores

Off: 7
Def: 4
Mob: 6
Fun: 7
OVR: 6

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 checking out his Patreon!

13
The Night Gyr should, by all rights, be OP. It has better hardpoints than any Clan heavy in the game, it has more pod space than any omnimech but the Dire Wolf (Warhawk...debateable), and it comes with lots of jumpjets that don't even generate heat due to the laser heat sinks. It should be broken as hell. But from what I've experienced, it's merely incredibly strong.

The size, shape, and speed of the Night Gyr hold it back (thankfully), and draw an easy comparison to the Timber Wolf. The Timber remains one of the tankier heavy mechs in the game because of these three factors - it's relatively small, its body is round with relatively indistinct hitboxes, and its speed helps it get out of sticky situations. By comparison, the Night Gyr is tall as hell, relatively flat with clearly defined hitboxes, and it's the slowest heavy omnimech in the game; its speed more comparable to a fast Assault (which is only fair).

All that being said, the Night Gyr is the culmination of a lot of personal mech fantasies, similar to how the Kodiak was. A heavy mech poptarting with 2 Gauss Rifles and a PPC is the dream, baby, and this thing makes that CTF-3D build look like an absolute joke. Of course, we also have many of the obvious dakka builds, but what really makes me happy about this mech is the number of weird builds that actually work pretty well in this thing. I think this might just be a result of how oddly spaced out the hardpoints are - some builds that could have been amazing aren't doable because of the crit slot limitations, so these weird facsimiles get their moment in the sun.

But enough generalities, let's look at the nitty gritty.

Builds

Poptart



This build has easily given me both the most success and the most fun - not particularly surprising given my love for the Timber Wolf. But the extra damage and lack of heat limitation that this build holds over the Timber poptart really set it off.

The problem is, it's a very unforgiving mech to play. Your arm mounts aren't terribly low, but you still have to expose much more than a Timber does, and speaking of arm mounts...the Gauss convergence isn't particularly lovely (though it absolutely could be way worse). Add onto that the fact that you're going about 18 KPH slower, and it's just a really vulnerable mech.

A very powerful, vulnerable mech.

You can also run this build with Dakka or less Gauss, but those are way less cool.

Dakka



It certainly doesn't mitigate any of the vulnerability issues coming from the previous build...but it doesn't lose any firepower either. It's one of the highest DPS builds you can run on the mech, and the main strike I have against it is that it runs out of ammo fairly quickly. That being said, it also does a lot of damage fairly quickly, and you should be able to get over 1k in any game that runs you dry.

There are lots of other dakka options to consider (UAC/5s, UAC/10s, UAC/2s, other hybrids), and one of those may prove superior in time, but right now this is my favorite.

Gauss Vomit



Honestly, I wasn't expecting much from this. It seemed like it would be way too hot for not nearly enough damage, but it was actually quite manageable. And the quirks ended up playing a considerable role in making this build work for me. That being said, it's not the main Gauss Vomit build that you're likely to see on this chassis.

I imagine most people will be running this build a bit differently, however. Dual Gauss with lasers is the obvious choice, and you can upgrade to a Large Pulse too. Or ER Larges. Or Med Pulse. There's just so much you can do!

Dakka/Gauss



This is the my favorite of the wacky builds. A bit light on Gauss ammo for my taste, but it actual worked out surprisingly well for me. I mean, a lot of people are running the poptart with one Gauss and 2 PPCs, and why run 2 PPCs when you can run 2 UAC/10s! Don't answer that.

I also really ended up liking this version of the poptart build with a UAC/5 instead of a PPC. Mainly because I wanted to take full advantage of them quirks, but it's also just kind of fun.

Musings

The Night Gyr is variety incarnate. Not only can it run many different sorts of builds, I simply can't not mention all of the different ways it can run those archetypes. Just in the dakka category, there are multiple completely legitimate options, and I think mechs with this great a variety are generally healthy for the game. And I didn't even mention the brawling builds...or the LRM builds...

I'm also decently pleased with how many of the core builds are completely doable with just the base pack of 3 variants. There are absolutely some interesting options that aren't doable without buying into the reinforcement or hero packs, and that does not make me a happy chappy, but only a few of the strongest builds require over a $20 investment.

Power

I'm happy with many things about this mech. And since it's not a Kodiak, it can't be all that OP. But I do think it's too strong for a pre-order mech. And I mean, I'm always gonna feel that way about any pre-order mech that performs at a high level, which is why I really hate the mech pack model...but there's not much I can really do about that.

I still need to do more testing, but my first impressions are placing the Night Gyr in Tier 1. It just has so many guns that I can overlook its weaknesses in other areas, and it just performs, man. I also get the feeling that once we see it in comp, it could really explode. So we'll see how it shakes out once the Night Gyr craze is over.

Scores

Off: 9
Def: 5
Mob: 6
Fun: 8
OVR: 7

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 checking out his Patreon!

14
The Bushwacker hits my nostalgia particularly hard based on my memories of it from MechCommander 2 and MechWarrior 4 - I'm not sure if it was particularly good in those games, but it was one of the mechs I used the most so I'm happy that it's coming to MWO (and I think it was a much better pick for a fancy reveal than the Linebacker was).

That being said, there has been a definite increase in the "not another mech pack!" sentiment around the community. Which I absolutely get, but I'm not sure why this has been exploding around the Bushwacker of all mechs. Not only is it a relatively yearned-after mech (not Mad Cat MK II levels, but still one of the cooler IS mechs imo), but it also has more uniqueness to it than many mechs in the game (more on this in the builds section, of course).

Still, just want to re-iterate my schtick about how I'd never tell you whether or not to buy things. My goals when writing these are to a) have fun, b) educate people as best I can about what these mechs will be capable of, and c) try to highlight the best values if you do want to spend money.

Another conversation that's been elevated by the Bushwacker is the ever-present question of a timeline jump (in terms of tech). There are good arguments on both sides of this issue (adds variety, raises massive balance concerns, etc.) but if PGI does decide to go with it, there are a few guiding principles that I'd like them to consider.

First, introduce new tech slowly - just one or two things per patch. Dropping a steaming pile of new tech on the playerbase could easily cause massive balance issues and complaints everywhere, whereas gradually introducing this new content allows you to balance the new tech as it comes out.

Second, make sure that the tech is distinct based on mechanics rather than just numbers. The introduction of Clan tech had successes like the Clan UAC and LRMs, but for the most part, the only changes many Clan versions got were numbers (duration, range, etc.). You can absolutely balance things like the RAC/5 and Heavy Laser, but make sure that they get something to really distinguish them from the toys we already have.

And finally, give us a reason to get hyped about it. Release the weapons by putting out new variants of chassis that are already in-game which already have those weapons equipped - that way we get fresh mechs with fresh weapons and everything can feel much more new. I think the AS7-S2 with its Heavy Gauss, or the RFL-8D with its Rotary AC/5s could be great ways to experience the weapons for the first time.

But enough of that, let's talk about the Bushwacker.

Builds

BSW-X1

  • Endo, Standard Armor (arms at 0, legs at 48, head at 16, max elsewhere), XL225 (71.2 KPH)
  • 3x AC/5 (side torsos), 8 tons ammo
  • 10 DHS
This is one of the builds that makes the Bushwacker unique as a medium mech - 3 AC/5s isn't an outstanding amount a firepower, and it does have to slow down to equip it, but it is still the only IS medium that can carry it reasonably (the SHD-2H sadly doesn't work well, though I do love the build). If it's well-quirked (which it probably won't be), it could be pretty sweet.

BSW-X2

  • Endo, Standard Armor (arms at 3, max elsewhere), XL255 (80.7 KPH)
  • 2x AC/10, 6 tons ammo
  • 10 DHS
And this is the most exciting (to me) build for the Bushwacker. I could see this being quite good, and it doesn't really have to sacrifice anything to mount these guns. This build can also be run on (and will likely be the best option for) 4 of the 6 Bushwacker variants we're getting, but I'll still be listing a build for each of them.

BSW-S2

  • Endo, Standard Armor (RA at 2, max elsewhere), XL285 (90.2 KPH)
  • 4x SRM6 w/ Artemis, 5 tons ammo
  • 2x Flamer
  • 14 DHS
It's nothing special for a brawler, and the GRF-2N is just going to be directly superior for the most part, but it could be interesting to see if it gets any special quirks or if its hitboxes are just stupendous.

BSW-P1

  • Endo, Ferro (RA at 6, max elsewhere), XL345 (109.2 KPH)
  • 6x SRM4, 5 tons ammo
  • 14 DHS
Now this is something special. It still is likely to be an inferior product when compared to the GRF-2N or the upcoming Huntsman, but on its release it will have the most missile hardpoints for an IS medium mech, which means that it will be a pretty brutal brawler. And you can fit SRM6s in there too, but with some significant losses in speed and heat efficiency.

BSW-P2

  • Endo, Armor (arms at 0, legs at 48, head at 16, max elsewhere), XL200 (63.3 KPH)
  • 2x Gauss Rifle, 3.5 tons ammo
  • 10 DHS
This is one of the variants where your best bet is to run dual 10s, but...I can't not mention this option. As is the theme with this mech, this is the lightest IS mech where you can run this build, but the HBK-IIC did beat it to the punch a bit. Still, it's a fun little option if you don't mind dying really quickly.

BSW-HR

  • Endo, Armor (arms at 3, max elsewhere), XL255 (80.7 KPH)
  • 2x UAC/5, 5 tons ammo
  • 1x LPL
  • 10 DHS
I actually rather like the look of this build. It's a pretty reasonable alternative to the AC/10s build and it should have slightly better DPS and alpha than the 3x AC/5 option you get on the BSW-X1. And you can run it on 4 of the 6 Bushwacker variants, so that's just a sweet bonus.

Value

If you do decide to buy the Bushwacker, I think you can get a lot out of just the $20 pack. The BSW-X1 runs 90% of the cool unique builds that can even be done on the chassis in general. Of course, it could end up having crappy quirks, but if that's not the case, this base variant should be the most useful one, which is a refreshing change of pace. Which also could mean that you might want to buy the $40 pack (not something I usually recommend, but if you expect you'll play it a lot...)

If the variant with 6 missile hardpoints tickles your fancy, it might make sense for you to add it on too. I expect it will function as a super KTO-18, with (probably) better hitboxes, up to you whether that's worth 15 bucks.

I don't see a huge reason to spring for the Hero, though, since the only uniqueness it gets is 4 energy hardpoints - not enough to be a huge selling point in my opinion (2 UAC/5s and 4 medium lasers is the main build I can think of which uses them well).

So if you do decide to buy this pack, I recommend just going for the base $20, with maybe the $15 reinforcement pack if those really tickle your fancy.

Predictions

The Bushwacker will eventually settle into its role as a mid-range fire support mech, mainly using dakka builds or AC/10s. With decent structure quirks, we could see it being a mainstay in PUGs at least, though it's hard to see it supplanting the Hunchback IIC in more competitive environments. This also does mean that it could have a high CW potential for people interested in that gamemode - I actually could see it being the best IS medium for that mode.



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 checking out his Patreon!

15
I think this is the first time where I go out of my way to play a mech because I love its camo so much. The CP-11-A is certainly not the best variant but its aesthetics are just so disturbingly satisfying. I actually hardcore dig the look of the mech in general - particularly when you place the massive eyeball decal over the cockpit, but also in general I enjoy the simplistic camo pattern.

Thankfully, superficial allure isn't the only thing this mech has going for it. I actually have had quite a bit of fun in this grotesque beauty, with a few unique builds and a few meta-clones, many of which work well. I actually think that the Cyclops is in a pretty well-balanced place; strong enough to be a factor, but not strong enough to bring on p2w accusations. It is kind of a bummer that the most meta-friendly variant is the Hero mech and thus behind a (steeper) paywall, but it's not particularly special as long as the MAL-1P is in the game. And the most interesting variant is in the base pack, so I'm not mad.

The quirks have been lowballed, as is the pattern (one I don't particularly mind, but opinions differ). Generic weapon quirks are very limited, and most of the best builds really don't benefit much from them. There are some nice acceleration quirks, but in general the mech can feel a bit clumsy to me due to its limited torso twist on most variants. Structure quirks beat out the Mauler (its most direct competitor) by a bit, but they're not nearly enough to make the mech a tank...not that there's anything wrong with that.

Overall, I've just been having fun with it. No real glaring issues, and a few things to love.

Builds

CP-11-A

This is the base variant, meaning that it's the only one that can get the awesome-cool camo. It's also one of the less interesting variants from a build perspective, but there are a few options that run well on it. So far, I've had the most pleasant experience with this setup:



It's really not that great and it lacks in power (I really wanted 2 PPCs but it felt so sluggish), but so far it has brought me the most reliably good results and most fun. Alternatives include using SRM4s and switching to a double UAC setup, but both of those ended up underwhelming me.

CP-11-Q

This is the magic variant; the freshest of the bunch, with some hilariously enjoyable games already under its belt. And again, there are several ways to run it, but here's my favorite:



The XL is a definite risk, but I just can't stand "slow" brawlers - even the Spirit Bear is a bit sluggish for my taste. And so is this, but it's close enough for me to love it. But there are a few alternatives that use STD engines well enough, like the 7x6 (which can be done with artemis'd 4s as well) or 6x6A.

CP-10-Z

The last of the base variants, this one is a mini-Boar's Head, with almost identical hardpoints. And you can build it just like a traditional Boar's Head build, but I went with something a bit longer-ranged.



The XL with a Gauss Rifle is super risky, but I wasn't having much luck with it at lower speeds. If it's not suiting your style, more traditional options work well too.

CP-11-A-DC

It's not the best of these variants, but it definitely has a soft spot in my heart. And that's because it runs one of my favorite brawling builds in the game:



It gets hot and it's slow and it's squish and the ammo isn't great. But it is absolutely brutal in a brawl. I love this build because if you stick cooldown and range modules on the SRM4s, the cooldowns sync up almost perfectly, and the range on these weapons make it so that you can actually trade a bit outside of a brawl. It can be risky, but it's lovely to play (for me, at least).

CP-11-P

The ECM is definitely nice, but it's not a huge deal. Still, you get the occasional free poke off the back of it and there are a lot of LRMs going around these days.



It's a really simple build, used by many other mechs (usually heavies...), but it still works here. I really wish this variant had much better torso twist, though.

Sleipnir

This is the best variant, and it fits into the meta particularly well too. But its competition has better hardpoints and/or better quirks, so it ends up being sub-optimal in my book. Still great, though.



I waffle back and forth on the matter of the head laser. On the one hand, slapping a medium on there is cool and looks awesome. On the other hand...it's slightly slower or carries less ammo. I like to go fast, and your damage tends to be limited more by ammo and speed than anything else.

Verdict

It's a solid mech that will probably land somewhere in lower Tier 2. I've had some great games in it, but it's certainly no Kodiak, and I've had a couple bad games in it as well.

The Sleipnir is easily the best variant, but the CP-11-Q has that really special SRM niche that might keep it relevant in the future. All the rest are good, but none of them particularly stand out to me.

The most direct competition to the Cyclops is, of course, the Mauler. Not only is the best Cyclops variant a clone of a dakka Mauler build, many of the others have incredibly similar hardpoint layouts. In fact, the only particularly unique variant is the CP-11-Q, though to a lesser extent the CP-11-P and CP-11-A have some uniqueness going for them. On the whole, though, I do end up giving the edge to the Mauler for its quirks, and just because the MAL-MX90 is unrivaled by IS dakka.

That being said, the Cyclops does manage to feel substantially different to me, and I'm pretty pleased. It's a good mech, even if it's not great, and I like it.

Scores

Off: 8
Def: 7
Mob: 5
Fun: 7
OVR: 6.75

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 checking out his Patreon!

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