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Nobody had high expectations for this mech, but...I was really hopeful. I figured that it would get good quirks! I was expecting at least 50% extra structure with better offensive quirks than the Blackjack. But in terms of straight-up combat effectiveness, the barely-quirked Phoenix Hawk is a let-down.

That being said, this mech is not without its points. It's not a good mech, but it does have...

  • Two ECM variants
  • Two or three variants with good hardpoint layouts
  • Huge engine cap
  • Lots of agility quirks
  • Jumpjets on most variants
  • MASC on one variant, making it the fastest mech in the game
  • Not-bad weapon locations
  • It's pretty. And actually, its aesthetic kinda goes well with the mech's focus on agility
It ends up being a mech that feels kinda good without being terribly impressive in an actual fight. I find it more than likely that the Phoenix Hawk will get buffed with some extra arm armor (maybe like, 14 points?) since those fall off incredibly easily, and perhaps some heat gen and ballistic quirks to boot.

Anyways, time to talk about the variants!

PXH-1

This is one of my least favorite variants, with incredibly unspecial hardpoints and overly-specific quirks. But it's not exactly worse than half of the other variants!



It's a pretty lame build, but I've gotten more enjoyment out of its (relatively) high DPS than the range on the Large Laser build or even the triple Large Pulse option.

PXH-1B

And this is my favorite variant! Even though it has relatively few weapon hardpoints, it's one of the few with torso mounts, and it has ECM and extra structure on top of all that.



I'm opting for this build because most of the others need you to get too close for comfort, and it has more DPS than the poptart. That being said, it is kinda wimpy...regardless, it remains one of the best variants.

PXH-1K

This variant doesn't get the equipment advantages of the others (no jumpjets, ECM, or MASC), but it does have a whopping 8 energy hardpoints.



This is a pretty sweet build as far as offense goes, but you generally will want to stagger fire to avoid ghost heat. This does end up compromising the build a bit, but I still found it to be more useful than any of the versions of Laser Vomit. This is also one of the best variants.

PXH-2

This gets ECM, jumpjets, and 6 energy hardpoints! It even has (relatively) a useful weapon quirk.



Easily my favorite build for the variant, though it can run many other options without a problem. I'm not huge on the range for such a squishy mech, but I do think that the MPLs are worth it for their extra damage and low duration.

PXH-3S

This mech is pretty unremarkable in almost every way. But when you activate MASC, it becomes the fastest mech in the game...so I guess it's got that going for it, which is nice.



It's a terrible build. Absolutely horrid. But all the "good" builds are just clones of builds that go better on other variants, so I wanted to highlight something unique.

Kuroi Kiri

I get that this is based on a lore mech, but honestly, its existence kind of offends me. It offers pretty much nothing unique, and I just don't understand why it has to even exist. Super-similar variants really bother me, but usually it's excusable just to achieve the 3 needed to be able to elite a mech (another thing that drives me crazy), and this isn't even the only hero mech, and brings the total variant count up to 7. Oof.



It's got heat gen, so it's the best variant for 4 larges, sort of. There's a bunch of other builds you can do too, but...nothing exciting.

Roc

Also known as "St. Ives' Blues". The high engine cap is legit, and honestly it does have relatively good quirks. Better than friggin 5% duration on just regular lasers...



It's pretty fast and the DPS isn't horrible, but it's squishy and it's really weak for a brawler. I suppose there are worse mechs, though. Just, not many. I do at least appreciate that it's different from the other variants.

Verdict

The Phoenix Hawk is a very weak mech, and it makes me sad. It's not the worst mech in the game in my opinion, but most of the variants are certainly down there.

It's gotta be said, it feels pretty good. It's super agile, there aren't any big quality-of-life issues (just damage and durability issues), and the high engine cap gives you a fair bit of build flexibility.

The main thing I keep coming back to is how the mech is just a straight-up worse Blackjack! It has lower mounts, worse defensive quirks, worse offensive quirks, and way way worse hitboxes. ECM, MASC, and agility quirks absolutely don't bridge that gap.

If you're interested in more builds, search for the Phoenix Hawk in the Build Database

Scores

Off: 4/10
Def: 3/10
Mob: 9/10
Fun: 6/10
OVR: 5.5

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!

Daeron "Bombadil" and Phil "Sean Lang" chat about MWO, and upcoming patches and updates to the game.


<a href="http://youtu.be/mNs-8tnWZ30" target="_blank" class="aeva_link bbc_link new_win">http://youtu.be/mNs-8tnWZ30</a>

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

First things first, I am hardcore digging the aesthetic. I'm having a tough time describing the mech's looks and relating it to other things (maybe a bit of Tau? Probably just wishful thinking), which means it's wonderfully unique. And in this game, same-y mechs are the absolute worst (lookin' at you, Battlemaster).

It seems like that uniqueness may carry over into the way the mech plays. I've been seeing a lot of comments on how it's just a Nova dupe, but endo, ferro, and 8 missile hardpoints really crush all that (as many have thankfully been pointing out). Unfortunately, you can only get 8 missile hardpoints if you pre-order both the reinforcement pack and the hero.

In fact, even the missile builds which don't use all 8 missile hardpoints still require both of these add-ons to be run optimally, and almost all of them require one or the other for it to be run at all.

This does not make me a happy camper.

But ranting and raving about PGI monetization has never accomplished anything in the past, so let's talk about the actual mech, shall we?

As I said earlier, it has some unique options available to it, and it reminds me more of the Archer than of any of the other mechs it is commonly compared to. This sounds really bad at first, since the Archer is the worst chassis to be introduced since...gee, I don't know when. But there are a few very particular missile builds that the Archer runs really well, and it seems like those are the sorts of things we'll get out of the Huntsman...with jump jets.

Those are certainly not your only options, though, as you have plenty of energy and ballistic hardpoints too. But those builds seem to be almost universally better suited for mechs like the Hunchback IIC, so they seem more like backup builds in case the more niche ones fall flat.

But enough chit chat, nitty gritty time.

Build 1: SRM Boat

  • 20 armor on dead arm, max elsewhere
  • 6x SRM6 w/ Artemis, spread over each side torso and one arm, 6 tons ammo
  • 13 DHS

I'm looking forward to trying this out. It has the high-ish torso-mounted group of four, and then another group of four for corner-peeking, and you get to use all of it in a brawl for ridiculous DPS. Sure, you could do 8 SRM4s w/ Artemis and 12 DHS, or 8 SRM6s with no Artemis and 16 DHS, or 4 SRM6s w/ Artemis and 3 small pulse (the list goes on), but I think this build is a really healthy balance between brutality and heat management.

Oh yeah, and all those super exciting builds? You gotta get at least one of the add-ons for most of them, but some need both and all of them need both to be run optimally.

Build 2: Dakka

  • 46 armor on each leg, 16 on head, max elsewhere
  • 2x UAC/10, 5.5 tons ammo
  • 10 DHS
It's just purely worse than the Hunchback IIC. Well, maybe we'll see something interesting from quirks or hitboxes...but I doubt it.

Even this build requires the reinforcement pack, since there aren't enough slots in the RT for both UAC/10s. You can do it with 5s and a couple of meds with just the base pack, I suppose.

Build 3: Laser Vomit

  • 20 armor on dead arm, max elsewhere
  • 2x cLPL
  • 3x cERML
  • 18 DHS, TC1
Super original, I know. Also, worse than the HBK-IIC-A in every way (barring unannounced/undiscovered stuff like quirks and hitboxes).

But at least it doesn't require more than just the base pack - it fits better with the reinforcements add-on, but not by much.

Build 4: Poptart

  • 14 armor on LA, 0 on RA, max elsewhere
  • Gauss Rifle w/ 3 tons ammo
  • ER PPC
  • 12 DHS, TC2
This build actually does kind of tickle me. It has an extra jumpjet over the Hunchadoozie (helpful for a poptart, though 5 is kind of unnecessary), and it doesn't really sacrifice anything.

Perhaps best of all, it runs great on the base variant, and doesn't get any better with the add-on packs.

Build 5: Streaks

  • 1 armor on dead arm, max elsewhere
  • 6x SSRM6, 5.5 tons of ammo
  • 10 DHS, BAP
Hahaha. It's like a super-hot Mad Dog with jumpjets. So dumb. You can also do it with streak 4s or 2s or some mix of the two for more DPS, but I'm really not feeling it.

Build 6: Gauss Vomit

  • 20 armor on LA, max elsewhere
  • Gauss Rifle w/ 3 tons of ammo
  • 4x cERML
  • 14 DHS, TC1
Here's another thing it can do semi-uniquely. It's the same build as the classic Gauss Vomit Stormcrow (more or less), but it gets a lot of jumpjets. There are plenty of variations on the theme with different lasers and stuff, but this is a pretty generic example.

It does need the reinforcement pack, though...

Value Assessment

The most badass missile builds will require the Hero and the HMN-P from the reinforcement pack, and those missile builds seem to be the only super-special thing about the chassis.

It makes sense to get only the base pack if you really like the way the mech looks, or love the Huntsman outside of MWO. But the poptart, laser vomit, and UAC/5 builds are the only ones that really seem to be big options with just that pack, and as it stands now, those things are all done better on the Hunchback IIC.

So if you are going to get the Huntsman (and I make a point to not say whether you should or shouldn't buy a pack), I think the best value will be the base $20 pack, with the reinforcements and hero added on. I don't see the need for the "special" version of the Prime variant if you're already getting the Hero. But man, I really don't like the way the variants are distributed, with the P and Hero being so clearly vital. Really wish PGI would at least let you choose the two non-prime variants in the base $20 pack.

I guess it is worth noting that, in terms of $$/C-Bill conversion, it's not great, but that should be obvious since it's a 50-tonner. You're paying to fund development, and for early access.

Predictions

I'm gonna start doing little predictions for where mechs will end up in the meta. Obviously, this is without knowledge of quirks, hitboxes, and actual experience playing the mech (and I have a feeling the ghost heat replacement will be implemented before this thing is released), but I figure it could be a fun little thing to do...

After its initial burst of popularity on release, the Huntsman will be seen little more than the Nova, due to it being just a bit worse than mechs like the Hunchback IIC. However, some players will cling to its absurd brawling builds, which will even be found in competitive play. These brawling Huntsmen will only fit into very specialized drop decks, but will absolutely have their place alongside the Griffin, and will replace the Griffin in heavier drops. But it's not going to be a particularly good mech in the public queue.

Also, that jump sniper is going to be referred to as a "HuniePop".




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!

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

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

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

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

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

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

KDK-1 & KDK-5

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

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

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



KDK-2

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



KDK-3

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



KDK-4

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



Spirit Bear

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

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



Verdict

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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