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.BuildsASN-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
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!