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This might be the first mech release in years that I've actually supported, in a way. I'm a full-on broken record about hating the MWO business model, but releasing C-Bill variants without even putting them behind a paywall for half a year? Get outta here!
It's worth mentioning that their decision to do so came to placate a massive backlash over how (potentially) OP the original state of the Clan Wave II Heroes pack was, so it's not this pure beacon of goodliness. But still, it's deserving of generating a fair amount of goodwill, since it gives everyone cool new toys.
And boy, are they some cool toys. Of course you've got the Mist Lynx, where the free variant on its own has catapulted the mech into relevance, but almost all of the 9 chassis have received some fantastic new options that will at the very least inject some fresh builds into the game, if not resulting in a new best build.
There's a fair few builds to talk about, so let's get into it.
This build, and the version using ER Smalls & LMGs, are easily the two biggest to come out of the new Mist Lynx variants. Each of the builds have pretty crazy DPS, with the Heavy Smalls/MGs build coming up with higher damage at the cost of half the range and worse heat. I still prefer it, though, as the Mist Lynx is generally quick enough for the range to make little difference, and the damage gap is substantial.
It's not horrible, but the ammo is simply inadequate. As such, I also tried out swapping out two of the 4s for 2s to get an extra ton of ammo, but that still wasn't a stupendous performer. And since a 2-missile LA omnipod is the only new thing to come out of the Hero, there's not much else worth trying.
It can poke with lasers, it can spray with LMGs, and it's just a really good mech. However, it splits its focus just a bit too evenly for me, and the HMG alternative is too range limited (and not good). As such, it's not my favorite Arctic Cheetah build to come out of the new variants. That honor requires omnipods from the...
The change isn't too dramatic, but it's enough in my mind to change it from a split focus on poking and spraying, to a definitive focus on spray with some extra flat damage thrown in against armored foes. The Shard's RT omnipod also makes the Arctic Cheetah the best 8xHMG boat (Skill Tree) and lets you put out ridiculous DPS, but lacks any backup weapons and the ammo might not last terribly long.
An ECM CT would be pretty cool, but I'm all about the firepower. It gets hot for sure, but the Ice Ferret's always been one of the better mechs at flanking, poking hard, and running away.
So here's where we get our ECM. I'm not generally a fan of mechs that keep all their weapons on one easy-to-destroy arm, but this one was pretty decent. The damage and range are pretty good for a mech of its weight & speed, and the ECM helps compensate for the extreme duration of those lasers.
I'm not a big fan of streaks, but this mech has enough of them and runs fast enough to actually kill enemy lights, rather than just chasing them off. The big limiting factor is ammo, and I did look at this alternative build that alleviates that concern with backup weapons and has ECM to boot, but I think it compromises too much of its main goal in the process.
The Mishupeshu's only new omnipod is the Right Arm, and it's almost universally useless. However, this build at least is a teensy weensy bit better than it'd be without the omnipod.
The MDD-H's Left Arm is, without a doubt, the best thing to ever happen to Mad Dog laser vomit builds. But I mean, who the hell runs laser vomit on a Mad Dog? Still, it definitely works, and it actually can carry a decent armament, comparable to a Hellbringer (but no ECM and low mounts). Plus those side torsos are tanky as hell.
It's a pretty decent build - with the ammo nodes, you've got a pretty decent potential damage. Still, the firepower is low, and the DPS is lower, so you might wanna look at a Gauss Vomit version (Skill Tree). The ballistic side torsos aren't game breaking, but they still are really powerful for a hero mech.
The 2E RT is a pretty great deal, but the lack of any energy weapons with a ghost heat cap of 3 makes the omnipod less useful for trading. Still, this build turned out to be pretty decent, and you can also run more powerful asymmetrical-ish laser vomit (Skill Tree).
Esprit de Corps
The ballistic LT was the biggest concern I had about the Clan heroes in general, and while it's not some P2W monster, it's still pretty good. The dual gauss Eb Jag got some attention a while ago (though I really didn't like it), but the ability to use 2 high mounts and add Heavy meds instead of ERs makes a considerable difference.
It's just the classic laser vomit Hellby, but better. Higher mounts, less armor needed on the arms, and it just generally nails it. And since it's on the C-Bill variant, I've got no complaints.
The Hero's about as useless for omnipods as the Shadow Cat, but the set-of-8 quirks are actually pretty good (-10% energy heat). You lose out on the ECM, and you need to stick some weapons in your arm, but it's still good.
I love that we got some Gargoyle torso mounts, but getting this cool stuff after the cSPL nerf just hurts, dude. Still, it's a decent knife fighter, and I like how it fits.
Well this is just as splatty as you can get it. I think the ammo is a bit too low to be a real good build, but it's still got enough to make it work.
I really like the 3E RT omnipod, but I feel like the Executioner just has some intractable issues holding it back. Still, if you're gonna run an energy-boat Executioner, might as well use the omnipod.
It's got some real good DPS, but the range is crap and I hate how spread out the weapons are. Still, it's nice that we finally get a usable number of missile hardpoints on this mech.
These huge packs are intense. I'm pretty happy with how this pack turned out, though. The hero mechs aren't actually stronger than existing options for the most part, with most of the power available on the C-Bill variant. Instead, the heroes focus on offering new options which are interesting without being super good, which is the way I always want them to be.
I think the big winners from this pack are definitely the Mist Lynx (most improved), Hellbringer (most reliable, but I mean, it was already pretty good), and Arctic Cheetah (just the best). I'm not sure if the Arctic Cheetah's RT omnipod is better than using one of the energy omnipods, which is the only potential for p2w in the pack, but I don't think that it wins by much if it even wins at all.
Sorry it took so long to finish this article, by the way. I'll get to work theorycrafting some Thanatos.
This patch was intense. All sorts of new weapons, new equipment, and new mechs hit us hard, and it's a bit of a process to digest it all. Personally, I'm a fan of the changes overall (though ghost heat on gauss rifles is silly), and I think it's injected a good deal of novelty and fun into the game.
This piece is going to be focused on the new mechs - of course, this does kind of require some discussion of tech, but we're gonna keep that to a minimum. Since this is a full mech pack of 4 chassis that I'm going to be reviewing, we might not be going in depth on each and every variant, but I want to hit the main notes for each of the mechs.
ATMs are not some incredible broken OP-pls-nerf weapon, but they're pretty good if you play it right. And for some reason, the Cougar has given me some of the best results with ATMs; this build being the chief performer. As long as you can stay between 120 and 310 meters of your target, you're gonna be rocking 81 damage alphas, and even out to around 600 (though I don't know the exact number) you're still doing 54 points, which is more than a light, or even a medium, should be able to.
The downside (aside from the 120m min range) is that you need that reinforcement pack or the Hero in order to build it out. And idk how many people want to actually spend more than the base amount on the Cougar.
Any true medium mech would be able to run 3 UAC/5s instead of 2, but this is alright I guess. The DPS isn't nuts, but if you can keep it up for a while you'll be good. The high mounts also make it great for just peaking over cover a bit, and it can trade pretty effectively.
On the other hand, firing your weapons literally blinds you for a fraction of a second, and you need the Hero omnipods to make it work. So, not for everyone.
Base Pack Laser Vomit
This one I built out specifically to accomodate people who only want to buy the base pack, because damn I think every other build uses either the Reinforcement or Hero omnipods. It still works pretty good as a laser sniper/vomit-er, but it's not one of the builds I'd focus on.
Base Pack Brawler
This is the last build that I want to highlight, just because I was shocked by how not-terrible it is. You can lean pretty heavily on the UAC/20, and honestly it's worth considering dropping or downgrading the SRMs just to add more ammo, but when you put it all together it's a massive punch.
Survivability is a massive issue though, and you'll die fast if you get noticed.
Expectations were low. Real, real low. But I actually ended up really enjoying my time with this mech. It's not great, or even good, but it's far from the travesty I was looking forward to.
The obvious problem with the Cougar is that, while it has the armor and profile of a light, it has the speed of a heavy and the pod space of a skinny medium. It's not a great combination in theory, and it turns out it's not great in practice either! But I'm glad there were at least a few builds that I could have some fun with.
4/10: Not enough armor.
UZL-2S (Heavy PPCs)
I gotta say, I think the Uziel (and this variant in particular) might be the best mech to run 2 Heavy PPCs on, and I'm a big fan of that build in general. You're basically running double gauss on a 50 tonner. Sure, it's hot and has a minimum range, but the lack of a need to charge and a lower cooldown balance that out for the most part.
An alternative to this build shows up on the UZL-6P, which certainly resolves problems that the UZL-2S had around low mounts, not enough JJs, and survivability, but the loss of velocity and heat dissipation kills it for me.
The UZL-2S having two go-to builds (I originally was going to say great, but that'd just be false) makes it the best variant in my opinion. But I don't think that 2 UAC/5s is quite enough firepower when it doesn't have good cooldown or jam chance quirks. That being said, the high mounts are fantastic.
UZL-3S (Gauss Vomit)
This isn't a stand-out build, but it's real solid. You can lean on the Gauss for a while (might even want to swap out a JJ for a half ton of ammo), and the ER Med is one of the top new weapons in my book. I feel like one or two extra energy hardpoints could have pushed this into being really good, but hey. What're ya gonna do.
I've always been a fan of SRM poptarting, and MRM poptarting has caught my fancy in the Civil War era. The Belial does a decent enough job of it, but it's gotta be said, it doesn't stand up to the SHD-2K's 3x MRM/20 poptarting build.
UZL-6P (Med Pulse)
Again, not the best mech for the job, but it's a great job for this mech. And as someone who generally hates cooldown quirks on energy builds, I loved them here. I was able to shut down enemy mechs hard with repeated pokes and get pretty crazy DPS.
ER Meds deserves a shout out too, but that one deserves to be on the CDA-2A.
UZL-3P (MechAssault Belial)
This is a bad build, but it's the closest I could get to something like what the Belial from the original MechAssault might look like in MWO. And I kinda think it stands as a proof of concept for why the Belial in MWO could have paid homage to the original Belial in more than name. But I think I might be the only one bothered by this.
If you want to go full-on OG Belial, btw, here ya go. Disclaimer: These builds may be presented by GMan129, but they are in no way endorsed by him.
Man, I loved the Uziel ever since I laid eyes on it in MW4. I think it ends up being in a similar place to the Bushwacker - it's good enough, and its nostalgia factor is high enough to warrant a buy for the right person, but there's no risk of OP-ness.
Still, there are a lot of things I like about the mech in MWO, even though it's not super fantastic. The high mounts make it very usable - not just the high side torso mounts, but the arms stick out at a pretty high level, around where the cockpit is. That sort of thing is great for QoL, even if the cockpit itself is a bit low.
6/10: IS 50-tonners have a tough life.
The Mad Cat MK II
Deathstrike (Gauss Vomit)
This variant, regardless of build, has gotten the most attention of all them. For good reason. It's the best variant, and we all knew it would be, and it's possibly one of the best variants in the game in general - it's not a pre-order KDK-3 situation, but it's still stronger than almost all other Assault mechs. This stings balance enough in my opinion, but then there's the added hurt of it being a Hero, and I'm just generally sad about it.
Other builds generally use some sort of heavy laser, be it all heavies or just the larges, and there's multiple variations of each of those builds. Either way, I found ER Meds to be more reliable and more up my alley.
I was excited for this build, since it's basically a KDK-3 with a jumpjet and arm mounts. But more importantly, because it's on the Mad Cat MK II. It still does work pretty well, but the mounts aren't super high and the damage is a bit lame, which really does hold it back. Still, it's worth a mention, and it's worth a play for sure.
It's like a Scorch with a jumpjet. It is strong enough in its role to be worrisome, but its speed makes me almost completely unconcerned about it being P2W (just like with the Scorch). Its lack of defensive quirks also means that its effectiveness as a brawler is limited, but man, if you can get in there, you can tear it up.
MCII-1 (Budget Deathstrike)
It's simply not as good as the Deathstrike, but it's still a serviceable Gauss Vomit mech, and most importantly, it's in the base pack! So if you love the Mad Cat MK II (one of my all-time favorite mechs, if not #1) but don't want to drop the coinage on the Hero or reinforcement packs, you can still run a full-on meta build! Even if it's sub-optimal...
As I mentioned, I love the Mad Cat MK II. It contends with mechs like the Highlander and Nova Cat for all-time favorite battlemech. In many ways, I'm pleased with its implementation into MWO - it's certainly strong enough and I love its look (my only aesthetic complaints go back to its missile pods - I don't think they look right regardless of the weapon you put in there, and the pegs left behind when you don't equip missiles look bad to me).
My complaints about the mech being too strong all go back to the pre-order system. I know that I'm just a broken record on this one, but I hate the pre-order model because it makes it so that new strongest mechs can't be released without being P2W. I don't think the Mad Cat MK II is strong enough to be P2W, but it still makes me uncomfortable, and it's entirely possible that it's stronger than I give it credit for.
Also, broken jumpjet animation. Thought we were over that.
9/10: Jumpjets should get you way higher.
This is probably the most typical Annihilator build, and it's certainly special as it is the first IS mech capable of 5 UAC/5s, which is quite a powerful build. Despite having one less UAC/5, I even think it's up there with the 6 UAC/5 Dire Wolf, due to the IS UAC/5 using only a single projectile and some crazy armor quirks on top of that. Not that either are at the top of the charts, but still, it's impressive to me.
You can also run this build with 2 UAC/10s to replace 3 of the UAC/5s, both options are great. I was disappointed to discover that the ANH-1A's AC/10 cooldown quirk doesn't seem to apply to UAC/10s, so either variant is equally good at the build.
Another great variation on the build relies on 6 AC/5s, which I'm not as huge a fan of, but is certainly an intriguing option, and uses this Skill Tree.
ANH-1A (AC/10 PPFLD)
It took me a while to stumble onto this build (it wasn't until I realized that the AC/10 quirk didn't apply to UAC/10s that I started considering normie AC/10 builds), but I really dig it. The SNPPC can be swapped out if you can work out a good alternative, but man I love the 30-damage hit on a sub-2 second cooldown. 15 reliable DPS before you even add the next weapon.
ANH-1X (Quad LB 10-X)
Sure, you could do some Gausszilla shenanigans on this variant, but you'll probably only get to hit one or two mechs with that before the round ends. This isn't incredible, but the DPS is surprisingly good and you're tanky enough to keep dishing out damage for as long as you feel you have to. The lack of speed is felt even more on an LBX build, unfortunately.
ANH-1E (Energy Boat)
I don't think the Annihilator is a great platform to boat energy due to its low engine cap (limited internal heatsinks for one), but this...this is a good build. I don't completely understand why, but it felt better than most other builds, and its heat rating on Smurfy's is deceptive - it absolutely is hot, but not prohibitively so.
This mech is as slow and sluggish as a Dire Wolf. In fact, the only differences between the two in terms of their agility is that the Annihilator has a bit less torso pitch (and the Dire Wolf isn't exactly known for its pitch) and a good deal more torso twist (which you really, really feel). But to offset the slowness, it not only has the greatest firepower potential of any IS mech, it also has some pretty incredible defensive quirks.
In general, I think the main factor that limits this mech is its engine cap, but man it's a huge limitation. It could be OP as hell, but the engine cap really keeps it in check.
One thing I really love about the Annihilator in the context of this pack is that the Hero is interesting but not the best (or even one of the best), and the base pack has some very useful variants in it.
7/10: Needs a fifth Gauss Rifle.
The Pack Itself
Just for a few general thoughts about the pack...personally, I prefer the mech-a-month. Not in terms of my enjoyment of the game, but man, it makes these reviews way easier and lets me get more in depth. I lost progress in this review alone twice from the annoying forgetting-to-save bug that my brain has, and part of that is due to the amount of material covered. And there's the excuse I'm using for why it took so long!
Not that this stuff matters to the average consumer. I think overall, this is a nice group of mechs - even the Cougar, which I expected to be the disappointment, isn't completely horrible. In terms of balance, I don't think this pack causes a huge issue, with the Deathstrike being the only cause of concern I can see. So, I'm relatively content.
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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