Author Topic:  Shadow Cat Review  (Read 5746 times)

22 Jul 15

Read 5746 times

Offline GMan129

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I've already posted (well, technically Cattra posted it - thanks bro!) my review of the Arctic Cheetah, a very exciting mech with all sorts of special characteristics and strengths and stuff! So now it's time for us to talk about it's sister mech, the Shadow Cat, or Scat as it is more colloquially referred to. The label may have been originally derived from S-Cat, but it is appropriate in more ways than one (and I'm not talking about jazz).



The Shadow Cat is the newest Clan Medium mech, showing up as the second in the 45-ton bracket, and the first Clan Medium with ECM capability. There are a few distinguishing characteristics of this mech, but let's start out with the good ones. First off, there's ECM, which is pretty self-explanatory, and also very useful for the mech. Next up, we see that it has almost exclusively high mounts, the only exceptions being stacked ballistic weapons in the left torso, which you don't really want to do on this mech anyways. These help a lot for minimizing risk and just generally helping you out when it comes to guesstimating convergence issues. The next good thing we have is the mobility of the mech. It comes in considerably slower than the Ice Ferret, sure, but it comes with 6 jumpjets and MASC. These attributes have actually already led to one of my most memorable recent moments in MWO - sadly I do not have a recording but...

We were on HPG, Assault mode. There was a decently paced engagement going around over the center of the match, all friendly mechs fully engaged and we had a fair bit of momentum. Which is when we noticed the health of our base dropping rapidly. Clearly, we couldn't run back in time, it was too far. So I took to the skies, leaping from the ground to land on top of the dividing wall between the center of the map and our cap, and jumping back down directly onto the base. Thankfully one of my teammates (pretty sure it was Khornite) followed me and helped me clean up the 3 mechs that were already on cap and additional one en route, but there was no way we would have won that round without those jumpjets. And then, I casually lept back up onto the wall and continued sniping with my ER PPCs to help finish off a few enemy mediums and heavies that remained in the center. I've never been so goddamn pleased with jumpjets in this game, because for the first time in a long time, if not ever, I got to use them for exactly the thing they are meant for. Also, I found a neat little shortcut to get into the center of HPG if you get one of the crappy spawns.

Despite the mech being a great source of pleasure for me, I cannot honestly say that its benefits outweigh its disadvantages. First of all, you have less pod space available for guns than a friggin' Adder, despite the extra 10 tons and higher weight class. A big part of this is the 5 tons of locked space spent on MASC and jumpjets, and having the option to remove a few of the jumpjets would open up some really nice options, but that's just not the current situation. More importantly, the Shadow Cat has the worst hardpoint availability of any Clan mech in the game. If PGI had given the Shadow Cat a Left Torso with 3 energy hardpoints instead of 3 ballistics (or just added an energy hardpoint to all the existing locations), it would be a superb mech with really nice build options using 6xcERML. But with a maximum of only 3 energy hardpoints total, the Shadow Cat features some very lackluster build options. Aside from these two glaring issues, the Shadow Cat would really be a nice mech, it's a real shame that it's so hamstrung in (arguably) the two most important areas of any mech - hardpoints and available tonnage.

There's a couple quirky little things about the Shadow Cat I also want to make a note of, things that aren't really good or bad, but that I think are worth knowing. First of all, the Left Torso omnipod with ECM (from the B variant) not only has the best equipment but by far the best quirks, with 17 total extra durability split between armor and structure. I am also happy to say that it is one of the few clan mechs in the game where the Prime variant (with the C-Bill bonus if you pre-ordered) has the best CT. I think that the only other mech like this is the Kit Fox, and then there are a few others whose CT's aren't quirked so it doesn't matter, but they don't count. Also, the Scat and Cheeter both represent a drastic departure from the standard of heavily and uniquely quirked CTs, with maybe half the usual numbers that we see and less differentiation between the variants, including a variant with quirks split between two of the others (half the torso twist and turn speed from each of 2 of the others). Now that I write it down, I question just how interesting that is, but it's the sort of thing I find noteworthy.

The Scat has its flaws, and its strengths, but is it well balanced? Honestly, I think it's too weak. There are some OK builds available for it, but none of them really hold up to the competition. The two most popular builds for the mech revolve around cLPLs and cERLLs, functioning as a weird sort of hybrid between mid-range laser vomit and laser sniper, but each of these builds come with serious competition from other mechs in both the Medium and Light classes.

The first build we'll look at on the Scat is my personal favorite, a mid-long range laser vomit ECM platform thingy. It definitely has some value, but the damage is just not nearly high enough, and when we compare it to a Stormcrow or even a Nova, we see that it is weaker, hotter, and has very few advantages in general. The ECM, MASC, and jumpjets all help a fair amount, but not to the point that we need. You can't trade or DPS as well as you need, your only real option is to spend all of your energy on flanking maneuvers and sniping. Similarly, you can use cERLLs for this goal (there's also a cooler version with just 2), but I find them to be less help than hindrance.

The next Scat build is one of the more fun options: poptart! Again, it can serve you pretty well, but again the other mechs do it better, most notably the Nova, which runs cooler, has faster peeps, and can fire them more often. The comparison is closer than the numbers suggest due in large part to the ECM and high mounts of the Scat, but I'd still take a Nova over it.

Finally, we have the most disappointing build of the bunch - Gauss Vomit. Here's a list of things it doesn't have enough of: ammo, cERMLs, Targeting Computers, ECMs, general viability. It's just a bit disappointing, you know? If we had 4 less jumpjets, it would be so nice - could add ECM and the last ton of ammo it needs to keep in the fight. But as is, it just gets humiliated by the friggin Adder - a Stormcrow comparison would just be overkill.

At the end of the day, the Scat is just a little worse than its competitors in most ways, with just a couple neat little features that help it be fun and unique. I think it's a bit weaker than balanced, but I'm impressed that PGI could make a mech that really has its own personality, and I kind of prefer it to having another Ebon Jaguar situation (which is really just a smaller Timber Wolf without jumpjets).

Score relative to all chassis:

Off: 4/10
Def: 4/10
Mob: 8/10
Fun: 8/10
OVR: 6

Score relative to its class:

Off: 2/10
Def: 4/10
Mob: 9/10
Fun: 9/10
OVR: 6



GMan129 is currently an officer of the Steel Jaguar competitive team, is the owner of and writer for MetaMechs, and recently begun writing at NGNG as well. He has been playing MechWarrior Online since the early days of closed beta, and has spent far too much time and money on this crap. If you're interested in supporting his self-destruction, consider contributing to his PayPal and Patreon accounts!
« Last Edit: 22 Jul 15 by Cattra Kell »

22 Jul 15

Reply #1

Offline Keekat

  • Wrenching Crew
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You have some good points and I think you're right in the context of the current state of the game. Sadly clan power relies on energy hardponts which the shadow cat does not have, and full JJ is not useful enough due to PGIs implementation of JJ. I still have a lot of fun with it, especially uac10+4t 2ml

The shadow cat is close to being what i would consider a balanced clan mech but it needs a few things: at least 2 JJ unlocked so it can equip a third ton of gauss/uac20 ammo, a 1 or 2 energy hardpoint LT omnipod so players have to choose between hardpoints and ECM. Even then it probably won't compare to something like a stormcrow but then what does?

I really hope PGI doesn't pull a stormcrow A/B and slap on ridiculous numbers of hard points so they can get gift shop sales.
« Last Edit: 22 Jul 15 by Keekat »

23 Jul 15

Reply #2

Offline Niarro

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Are you... uh... sure you want to be trying to popularize that nickname for the mech?

23 Jul 15

Reply #3

Offline SeanLang

  • NGNG Founder
  • Legendary
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Are you... uh... sure you want to be trying to popularize that nickname for the mech?

haha to be honest, I've been calling it the 'Scat' since Mechwarrior 4 and heavily in the Mod mechwarrior living legends! haha

28 Jul 15

Reply #4

Offline GMan129

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Yeah it was actually the NGNG preview stream where i first saw that everyone was calling it the Scat, so that one's just me going along with it :P